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Finding Aid for the Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle Collection: Manuscripts and Miscellaneous Materials MS. Wilde mss
MS. Wilde mss  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Provenance
  • Access
  • Restrictions on Use
  • Alternate Forms Available
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Note
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization

  • Title: Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle Collection: Manuscripts and Miscellaneous Materials,
    Identifier/Call Number: MS. Wilde mss
    Contributing Institution: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 38.36 Linear feet 90 boxes plus bound volumes
    Date (inclusive): 1854-1962
    Abstract: This finding aid described literary and miscellaneous manuscripts related to or composed by Oscar Wilde and his literary circle. Significant manuscripts include drafts of Lady Windermere's Fan, An Ideal Husband, and a chapter of The Picture of Dorian Gray.
    Physical location: Clark Library.
    creator: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library.


    William Andrews Clark, Jr. acquired the nucleus of the Clark Library's Oscar Wilde collection from Dulau and Company, London, in 1929. Most of the Dulau material had been in the possession of Robert B. Ross (Oscar Wilde's literary executor), Christopher S. Millard (a.k.a. Stuart Mason, the Wilde bibliographer), and Vyvyan B. Holland (Wilde's only surviving son). Since 1929, the Clark Library has steadily purchased important new material and in the year 2000, the collection was estimated to contain over 65,000 items.


    Collection is open for research.

    Restrictions on Use

    Copyright has not been assigned to the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
    For additional copyright information related to Oscar Wilde, contact Merlin Holland (email: merlin.holland[at]wanadoo.fr).

    Alternate Forms Available

    Microfilm copies of portions of the collection are available for patron use.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item, subseries and series], Oscar Wilde and His Literary Circle Collection: Manuscripts and Miscellaneous Materials. William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Processing Note

    Many of the manuscript and print materials described within this finding aid have also been cataloged individually. Those individual records for print materials are available via the UCLA Library's online catalog, while the records for manuscript materials are accessible only through a physical card catalog located at the Clark.
    In 1957, a printed catalog of all Wilde-related works then owned by the Clark Library (approximately 2900 items) was compiled by John Charles Finzi and published as Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle by the University of California Press. Over the course of the next four decades, many new Clark acquisitions were added to the collection and approximately one-third of the collection was microfilmed at least once.
    In 2000, the first version of the Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle online finding aid, which described all archival materials in the Clark collections related to Wilde and his circle was written and encoded in EAD by John Howard Fowler. In 2009, this original finding aid was separated into several parts, edited and re-encoded by Rebecca Fenning in order to make its very large size (over 1000 pages) and scope more manageable for researchers. Instead of one guide describing the entire collection, there are now 5 more easily navigated guides devoted to different components of the collection.

    Biographical Note

    Oscar Wilde was born Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde in Dublin, Ireland, October 16, 1854. He attended Trinity College and Magdalen College, Oxford, winning the Newdigate prize in 1878 for the poem Ravenna. He subsequently established himself in London society as a champion of the new Aesthetic movement, advocating "art for art's sake," and publishing reviews and his Poems (1881). After being satirized (and made famous) as Bunthorne, the fleshly aesthetic poet in Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience, he made a year-long lecture tour of the United States, speaking on literature and the decorative arts. After his return to London, he married Constance Lloyd in 1884; they had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan Holland. In 1891 he met and began a love affair with the handsome but temperamental poet, Lord Alfred Douglas.
    The 1890s saw both Wilde's greatest literary triumphs and his tragic downfall. His only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray , appeared in 1891. The most famous of his witty social comedies-- Lady Windermere's Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)--were written and produced for the London stage. But in 1895, after becoming entangled in an unsuccessful libel suit against Douglas's father, Wilde was prosecuted for homosexuality. Convicted, he was sentenced to two years' hard labor.
    While in prison, Wilde wrote De Profundis, a letter to Douglas, and after his release, he published the long poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898). But despite these final works, his career was essentially over. Bankrupt and in exile, his health ruined in prison, he died in Paris in 1900.

    Scope and Content

    The Oscar Wilde and His Literary Circle Collection of Papers: Manuscripts and Miscellaneous Materials finding aid describes literary and historical manuscripts and miscellaneous material authored by or concerning Oscar Wilde and his coterie. Manuscript versions of Wilde's work, including drafts of Lady Windermere's Fan, An Ideal Husband and portions of The Picture of Dorian Grey are included, as are numerous manuscript works composed by Wilde's circle, and historical and biographical documents concerning Wilde and his family.


    This collection is organized into the following series:
    1. Series 1. Manuscripts
    2. Series 2. Miscellaneous
    Items listed below may include references to the numbers assigned to them in John Charles Finzi's Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle, and/or their item numbers from the 1929 Dulau auction catalog. Some items may also include references to available microfilm copies. The Clark Library shelfmark will always be given, but all unbound materials are also identified by their box and folder numbers.
    Items organized by date are organized by the earliest possible date assignable. The most likely approximation of the date will usually be found in the shelfmark of each item.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Adey, More, ca. 1859-1942
    Beerbohm, Max, Sir, 1872-1956
    Douglas, Alfred Bruce, Lord, 1870-1945
    Ross, Robert Baldwin, 1869-1918
    Symons, A. J. A. (Alphonse James Albert), 1900-1941
    Wilde, Oscar, 1854-1900
    Authors, English--19th century--Manuscripts
    Authors, Irish--Manuscripts
    Wilde, Oscar, 1854-1900--Archives.