View full screen - View 1 of Lot 126. Oscar Wilde | Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887.
126

Oscar Wilde | Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887

Estimate:

15,000

to
- 20,000 GBP

Oscar Wilde | Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887

Oscar Wilde | Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887

Estimate:

15,000

to
- 20,000 GBP

Lot sold:

18,900

GBP

Oscar Wilde


Series of five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian


writing to the editor of the Court and Society Review about his submissions to the journal, including play reviews and articles, also making arrangements to dine ("...afterwards we will go smoke cigarettes and talk over the Journalistic article. Could we go to your rooms, I am so far off, and clubs are difficult to talk in...") one letter complaining about a society piece by Lady Colin Campbell in the Court and Society Review about an opening at the Grosvenor Gallery ("...How bad the Grosvenor paragraph is! I could have done you a column on it, and it should be done well ... she requires very careful supervision if she is to continue to write particularly as people seem to know that she does so..."), 18 pages, 8vo, with two autograph envelopes, 16 Tite Street and Abbotts Hill, undated but envelopes postmarked 11 April and 9 September 1887


"...Shall I do for you an article called the 'Child Philosopher'? It will be on Mark Twains amazing and amusing record of the answers of American children at a Board School. Some of them such as Republican - 'a sinner mentioned in the Bible', or Democrat - 'a vessel usually filled with beer', are excellent..."


CORRESPONDENCE TO AN EDITOR PROVIDING GLIMPSES OF LIFE AND LETTERS OF AN AESTHETE'S LONDON. Alsager Vian (b.1863) was the young editor of the London weekly Court and Society Review, for which Wilde wrote a number of articles in 1887. He offered Vian submissions across a number of categories, rather than working specifically as a book or drama critic. His contributions to the journal included some of his most charming journalism, such as 'The Child Philosopher' mentioned above and - in the same issue of 20 April 1887 - his review of a biography of Whistler which famously began, "Every great man has his disciples, and it is usually Judas who writes the biography." Since the majority of his contributions to the journal were anonymous, these letters allow for the firm attribution of reviews and other pieces to Wilde. The Grosvenor Gallery, mentioned in one of Wilde's letters, was the foremost gallery for the London avant-garde and the Aesthetic movement from the late 1870s onwards. Part of the building currently houses Sotheby's Book Department. 


The public perception of these letters has a curious history. A seemingly minor mistranscription when they were offered at auction in 2010 led to a major misinterpretation of their tone. Wilde closes one letter with a comment on the magazine's distribution: "Even Grosvenor Place does not get the C & S. till Thursday night! This is all wrong, isn't it." The simple transformation of a minuscule was enough to lead headline-writers to conclude that they referred to an illicit assignation: "...Till Thursday night! This is all wrong, isn't it." Although these letters do not provide evidence of a homosexual affair, they are fine examples of Wilde's fluent pen and his activities as a working man of letters.


LITERATURE:

Donald Mead, 'Oscar Wilde, Alsager Vian and The Court and Society Review', The Wildean, 38 (2011), 6-15


PROVENANCE:

Bamfords, Derby, UK, 24 September 2010, lots 67-71

Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing, where appropriate


The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

Donald Mead, 'Oscar Wilde, Alsager Vian and The Court and Society Review', The Wildean, 38 (2011), 6-15