In February of 1882, Oscar Wilde came to Cincinnati in the midst of a nation-wide lecture tour in which he discussed “The English Renaissance” and decorative art. At this time, Wilde was at the height of his fame, and Cincinnati was accordingly abuzz to find out what “the aesthete” thought of the Queen City and its emerging art scene. Among the many things Wilde observed, the less than two year old Rookwood Pottery was singled out for particularly high praise, as was the Cincinnati Opera Company and its resident superstar, Adelina Patti. Below, you’ll find the story of Mr. Wilde’s visit told in items taken from Cincinnati newspapers, a program from the Cincinnati Opera Festival, images and lantern slides from our Digital Library, and historic books from our collection, including a book autographed by Mr. Wilde himself. The first five articles serve as a historic tour of sorts, allowing you to retrace Wilde’s path through Cincinnati where you’ll see his initial popularity upon arrival quickly slide into disappointment and even bitterness toward his words, accent, and choice of clothes. You’ll also find supplementary articles and items taken from our Digital Library that allow you to dive deeper into the goings on of Cincinnati in 1882, including historic buildings such as the Burnet House and advertisements from local businesses using the fame of Wilde and Patti to peddle their wares.
Look for further insights into the historical impacts of this visit in the “Description” fields of individual items.
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