The Definitive Resource Of Oscar Wilde's Visits To America

QUOTATION: If it took Labouchère three columns to prove that I was forgotten, then there is no difference between fame and obscurity.


In an interview in the lobby of the Brunswick Hotel in New York City on August 11th, 1883, shortly after Wilde arrived aboard the SS Britannic on his second visit to America.


The New-York Herald, Sunday August 12th, 1883


The interview cited opposite is entitled OSCAR WILDE'S HAIR and begins with a discussion of Wilde's new, shorter, hair style which contrasted remarkably with his flowing locks of the previous year.

Wilde was then pressed again for his opinion of the Atlantic Ocean and he developed his previous disappointment by stating that the ocean was now "simply monotonous".

He was then asked about Henry Labouchère's magazine Truth, that had printed parodies of Wilde's original "disappointed" remark and commented unfavorably on his tour. Wilde replied smartly that Truth is not consistent with fact, before adding the quotation above that cleverly turns the tables on Labouchère.

The quotation is also significant for hinting at Wilde's recognition of celebrity as a virtue in itself, and echoes his youthful vow that notoriety would be a welcome alternative to fame. [1]

The last word unfortunately, and unwittingly, went to Labouchère. While a member of the British parliament he was responsible for introducing an amendment to the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, 1885 - the precise clause that was used to convict Wilde of 'gross indecency' in 1895 and send him to jail for two years with hard labor.

© John Cooper

[1] “I’ll be a poet, a writer, a dramatist. Somehow or other I'll be famous, and if not famous, I'll be notorious.”

In Victorian days and other papers, Sir David Oswald Hunter-Blair, (New York: Longmans, 1939, p122)

Oscar Wilde In America | © John Cooper, 2024