Oscar Wilde: His Life and Confessions

Frank HARRIS (1856 - 1931)

Consumers of biography are familiar with the division between memoirs of the living or recently dead written by those who "knew" the subject more or less intimately, and the more objective or scholarly accounts produced by later generations.

In the case of Wilde, as presented to us by Frank Harris, we are in a way doubly estranged from the subject. We meet with Oscar the charismatic talker, whose tone of voice can never be reproduced – even if a more scrupulous biographer had set down his words accurately – and we are perhaps already aware of him as Wilde the self-destructive celebrity who uneasily fills the place of the premier gay icon and martyr in our contemporary view.

Neither of these images will do. We need to read as many accounts as possible. Harris, though himself a self-advertising literary and sexual buccaneer, takes a wincingly representative view of Wilde’s homophile activity: for him it is a patrician excrescence, the abominable vice of the few, contracted at English boarding schools – though thankfully “not infectious” as far as he himself is concerned.

What a long road we have to travel to arrive at the essentially gay man of today! But there are many shortcuts to take us back to where we came from… (Summary by Martin Geeson)

Genre(s): *Non-fiction, Biography & Autobiography

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 00 Author's Introduction Martin Geeson
00:09:26
Play 01 I. Oscar's Father and Mother on Trial Martin Geeson
00:36:50
Play 02 II. Oscar Wilde as a Schoolboy Martin Geeson
00:22:57
Play 03 III. Trinity, Dublin: Magdalen, Oxford Martin Geeson
00:23:29
Play 04 IV. Formative Influences: Oscar's Poems Martin Geeson
00:41:04
Play 05 V. Oscar's Quarrel with Whistler and Marriage Martin Geeson
00:30:37
Play 06 VI. Oscar Wilde's Faith and Practice Martin Geeson
00:19:20
Play 07 VII. Oscar's Reputation and Supporters Martin Geeson
00:17:27
Play 08 VIII. Oscar's Growth to Originality About 1890 Martin Geeson
00:36:44
Play 09 IX. The Summer of Success: Oscar's First Play Martin Geeson
00:19:28
Play 10 X. The First Meeting with Lord Alfred Douglas Martin Geeson
00:21:50
Play 11 XI. The Threatening Cloud Draws Nearer Martin Geeson
00:33:33
Play 12 XII. Danger Signals: the Challenge Martin Geeson
00:47:05
Play 13 XIII. Oscar Attacks Queensberry and is Worsted Martin Geeson
00:42:55
Play 14 XIV. How Genius is Persecuted in England Martin Geeson
00:57:26
Play 15 XV. The Queen vs. Wilde: The First Trial Martin Geeson
00:51:53
Play 16 XVI. Escape Rejected: The Second Trial and Sentence Martin Geeson
00:52:18
Play 17 XVII. Prison and the Effects of Punishment Martin Geeson
00:42:23
Play 18 XVIII. Mitigation of Punishment; but not Release Martin Geeson
00:31:38
Play 19 XIXa. His St. Martin's Summer: His Best Work - Part One Martin Geeson
00:43:28
Play 20 XIXb. His St. Martin's Summer: His Best Work - Part Two Martin Geeson
00:33:34
Play 21 XX. The Results of His Second Fall: His Genius Martin Geeson
00:48:32
Play 22 XXI. His Sense of Rivalry; His Love of Life and Laziness Martin Geeson
00:30:54
Play 23 XXII. "A Great Romantic Passion!" Martin Geeson
00:33:43
Play 24 XXIII. His Judgments of Writers and of Women Martin Geeson
00:34:50
Play 25 XXIV. We Argue About His "Pet Vice" and Punishment Martin Geeson
00:37:10
Play 26 XXV. The Last Hope Lost Martin Geeson
00:40:07
Play 27 XXVI. The End Martin Geeson
00:17:43
Play 28 XXVII. A Last Word Martin Geeson
00:13:19