The Definitive Resource Of Oscar Wilde's Visits To America

QUOTATION: Satire is the homage which mediocrity pays to genius.


By Wilde to his lady companions [1] in his box at the Standard Theatre, New York on January 5, 1882 while attending a production of Patience

On this and other occasions Wilde was reported as saying in reference to the appearance of the Wildean character Bunthorne on stage:

This is one of the compliments mediocrity pays to those who are not mediocre.


In the Press: New York Tribune, January 6, 1882 reporting the above visit by Wilde to see Patience.

Autograph Fragment: Made by Wilde on May 7, 1882 in New York (see opposite).

Lecture: In Wilde’s early lecture in America: The English Renaissance of Art. Reprinted in Miscellanies, London: Methuen and Co., 1908.

In his lectures, Wilde did not refer to himself in this fashion as a genius, but to others such as, on this occasion, the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood:

Satire, always as sterile as it in shameful and as impotent as it is insolent, paid them that usual homage which mediocrity pays to genius.

[1] Possibly including Miss Gabrielle Greeley, daughter of editor Horace Greeley.

Satire is the homage which mediocrity pays to genius

The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, VA

Object Number: 77.1204

Oscar Wilde In America | © John Cooper, 2024