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News Release — August 12, 1999

"The Wilde Controversies: A Journey Through the Life and Legend of Oscar Wilde"

What a lurid life Oscar does lead -- so full of extraordinary incidents. What a chance for the memoir writers of the next century...
--Max Beerbohm

The Wilde Controversies, open from September 1, to December 23, 1999 in the Leeds Gallery of the Flawn Academic Center, examines the life and legend of Oscar Wilde, one of the most amusing, exasperating, and tragically compelling writers ever known. Several events are being held in conjunction with the exhibition, including a free performance of Wilde's De Profundis by Corin Redgrave and a lecture by Merlin Holland, Wilde's grandson (see the last section of this release for more information).

Drawing on a wealth of materials from the Ransom Center's vast Wilde archive, the exhibition traces Wilde's flamboyant life from his days cultivating celebrity as a student at Oxford, to the penning of his sparkling comedies, through his trial for "gross indecency," subsequent imprisonment, and early death as a penniless expatriate.

Topics covered in-depth include Wilde's relationship with his ill-matched and ill-treated wife Constance; his love affair with Lord Alfred Douglas (and his disastrous encounters with Douglas' father, the Marquis of Queensberry); his whirlwind speaking tour of America (which included three stops in Texas); and Wilde's posthumous reputation and continued relevance today (scarcely a year passes that a major stage or screen production based on Wilde's work or life does not appear).

The exhibition leads visitors into Wilde's life through letters, diaries, post-cards, bills, books, posters, photographs, and ceramics, all from the Center's Wilde Collection. Highlights include: photographs of Wilde on his American tour; original manuscript and notebook materials for the often banned play Salome; many witty and poignant letters written by Wilde, including the last one he ever wrote; and extremely rare correspondence from Lord Alfred Douglas describing his relationship with Wilde.

Exhibition Facts

What: The Wilde Controversies
When: September 1, 1999 to December 23, 1999
Where: Leeds Gallery, 4th floor of Flawn Academic Center. Flawn is located just west of the Tower on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.

For more information call 512-471-8944

Related Events

Performance of De Profundis
Monday, September 13 * McCullough Theater * Performing Arts Center * 8 p.m
Internationally acclaimed actor Corin Redgrave will perform Oscar Wilde's De Profundis, the moving letter he composed in prison about his affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. The performance is free, but seating is limited. Tickets are required and can be obtained through UTTM (512.477.6060).

Lecture by Merlin Holland
Tuesday, September 14 * Leeds Gallery * 4th Floor * Flawn Academic Center * 8 p.m.
Oscar Wilde's grandson Merlin Holland will give a talk on the life of his illustrious ancestor. Mr. Holland has written a number of biographical works on Wilde, including The Wilde Album (1997) and is currently preparing a complete edition of his grandfather's letters. The talk will be followed by a public reception.

"Salome in the Flesh"
Tuesday, September 28 * Knopf Room * 4th Floor * Flawn Academic Center * 12 noon Professor Holly Williams of the UT Department of Theater and Dance will give an illustrated lecture on dances inspired by WildeÕs famous play.

Poetry on the Plaza
Wednesday, October 6 * Ransom Center Plaza * 12 noon In October, "Poetry on the Plaza", the Center's monthly reading series, will feature works by Wilde.

Why Wilde, Why Now?
Sunday, October 10 * Knopf Room * 4th Floor * Flawn Academic Center * 3 p.m.
As part of Austin Museum Day, Professor Elizabeth Richmond-Garza of the UT Department of English will give a talk on Wilde's continuing modern relevance.

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Alyssa Morris
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