Interview with Oscar Wilde
Of all the supernatural interviews I have now conducted (see list at the end), this interview with Oscar Wilde was one of the most challenging.
Yes, I know he died in 1900 at the age of 46, but I have the unique, unexplainable power of interviewing those no longer living. It’s true. Trust me.
Why was this interview so special? Because Oscar – Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was his full name – was responsible for hundreds of unbelievably wise, witty and unforgettable epigrams or sayings that are still popular today.
And he repeated many of them in answer to my questions. You will find his actual quotes italicized. Read on and you will see what I mean.
me – Tell me about your relationship with your parents.
Oscar – “Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.”
My father, William Wilde, was an extraordinary man – successful but driven. By the time he was 28, he had become a physician and written two medical books. He was knighted for his work on the Irish Census. He founded St. Mark's Ophthalmic Hospital in Dublin which was built entirely at his own expense. He was renowned throughout Ireland for his skill as an eye surgeon. But he had slovenly habits and gross table manners.
me – Such as . . . ?
Oscar – On several occasions, I saw him taste the soup at a fancy dinner party by using his dirty thumb. (Grimaces)
me – I remember reading some scandal concerning your father before he married your mother.
Oscar – “No man is rich enough to buy back his past.”
Yes, my dad fathered three illegitimate children before he married: Henry, Emily and Mary. But he did provide financial support for all of them. He paid for Henry's education and medical studies and eventually hired him as an assistant. The two girls, unfortunately, died in a fire at the ages of 22 and 24.
me – Tell me about your mother.
Oscar – “I see when men love women. They give them but a little of their lives. But women when they love give everything.”
My mother, Jane Francesca Elgee Wilde, was a loving, passionate and brilliant intellectual.
I got my tall stature from her – she was six feet tall.
She wrote poems under the pseudonym, “Speranza,” for a weekly Irish newspaper, and was a prominent supporter for Irish independence.
She spoke several languages and translated a famous Gothic horror novel,
“Mothers, of course, are all right. They pay a chap’s bills and don’t bother him. But fathers bother a chap and never pay his bills.”
me – Did you have siblings?
Oscar – I had a brother, two years older, William "Willie" Charles Kingsbury born in 1852, and a younger sister, Isola Emily Francesca.
When she was eight, she died of meningitis.
I was deeply affected by her death, and for the rest of my life, I carried a lock of her hair sealed in an envelope.
I dedicated my poem, “Requiescat” to her memory:
"Tread lightly, she is near … Under the snow … Speak gently, she can hear … the daisies grow …”
me – I know you were home-schooled until you were nine by French and German governesses who taught you their languages. And then you attended Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, Fermanagh County – a country village of about 15,000 where you studied the classics.
Were you a good student?
Oscar – Of course. “Anybody can be good in the country. There are no temptations there.”
me – What is the most important lesson you learned at Portora?
Oscar – “Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known. “ Andy Warhol learned that from me.
I received the Royal Scholarship from Portora to attend Trinity College in Dublin where I shared rooms with my brother, Willie, and earned their highest honor, a Foundation Scholarship.
I also won a Gold Medal for Greek and was awarded a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford University. I also learned to lose my Irish accent.
me – Were you active in the aesthetic/decadent movement popular at the university?
Oscar – “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
I became well known and continually talked about for my role in the aesthetic movement. I wore my hair long – the Beatles learned that from me – wore a cape, and carried a fancy cane.
I didn’t care much for masculine sports although I became an excellent boxer. My rooms were decorated with lilies, art objects and blue china.
“I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.” That quote of mine became famous when adopted by the aesthetes.
me – I notice you are wearing an Egyptian scarab ring on each pinkie finger. Any special significance?
Oscar – I am not particularly superstitious but I believe they aid in avoiding the “evil eye”.
“The world is divided into two classes, those who believe the incredible, and those who do the improbable.”
me – What happened when your father died in 1876?
Oscar – I learned, “It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.”
Do you remember Henry? my father’s illegitimate son? He paid the mortgage on my family's house and supported them until his sudden death in 1877.
I continued to do well in my studies at Oxford and was awarded a prestigious prize for my poem, “Ravenna.”
After graduation, I moved to London to live with my friend, Frank Miles, a popular high society portrait painter.
In 1881, I published my first collection of poetry titled appropriately but not particularly creatively, “Poems.” It received mixed reviews by the critics,
“I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works.“
me – I understand you delivered a series of lectures on aesthetics in America.
Oscar – When I arrived at the New York seaport, I was asked if I had anything to declare. My response: “I have nothing to declare except my genius.”
My four-month 50-lecture tour was so successful it became a one-year tour with me delivering 140 lectures. I met many famous American celebrities including Henry Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Walt Whitman. Walt and I became pals – pen pals, that is.
I became a major personality full of myself, like Simon Cowell, because of my sharp wit, creative genius, and flamboyance. Once I hailed a cab in front of my New York hotel to take me to the restaurant . . . across the street. (Laughs)
“I am so