Between 1995 and 2000 a number of events took place commemorating the centenaries of Oscar Wilde’s conviction for gross indecency in London and his death in Paris. This absorbing book examines five of these commemorations, the consecration of a window in Wilde’s honour in Poet’s Corner, Peter Tatchell’s campaign for a Royal Pardon, the 1997 film Wilde, the unveiling of Maggi Hambling’s statue of Wilde in Adelaide Street, and the public gatherings on the centenary of his death. Through these events the author explores the ways in which Wilde’s life and legacy continue to influence communities in Britain and throughout the world.
Grounded in an impressive range of critical scholarship, this work takes a unique personal approach arising from the author’s own participation in several of the commemorations discussed. The reader is introduced to Wilde’s legacy not simply as a wit, author and playwright, but also as a symbol and source of inspiration for a range of communities. Wood examines material, ranging from contemporary accounts of Wilde’s life and trial through to internet discussion groups, in an engaging and thought-provoking style to demonstrate the on-going cultural impact of the tragedy of Oscar Wilde.
This is the first book to consider the revival of interest in Wilde in the wider cultural context of mass mourning and to analyse the emotions generated by the story of his downfall. The author explores the Wilde tragedy within the discipline of myth, showing how this leads to a more profound understanding of Wilde’s popular appeal.