CollectionsWilde the classicist (16), Wilde the book reviewer (1), Wilde's own works (1), Wilde's family and friends (7), Wilde's research and inspiration (10), Wilde the Irish patriot (8), Your library (245), Favorites (13), All collections (247)
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was an Irish playwright, essayist, critic, novelist, poet, short story writer, editor, classical scholar and bibliophile. He was an influential critic and public figure associated with the Decadent, Symbolist and Aesthetic movements in art and literature. Wilde was a mentor to and defender of many of the writers and artists of his day; he was also a sparring partner to some.
Wilde’s own works include:
For more works by Wilde, see The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, Introduced by Merlin Holland (Fifth Edition, HarperCollins Publishers, 2003).
About my library
This LibaryThing catalogue is a tribute to Oscar Wilde and Thomas Wright’s Oscar’s Books: A journey around the library of Oscar Wilde (known in the U.S. as Built of Books: How reading defined the life of Oscar Wilde). I have attempted to list most of the books mentioned in this literary biography; all the credit for the research must go to Thomas Wright and the scholars who came before him. I must stress, however, that any errors or omissions in this online catalogue are mine.
This library is best viewed with the Comments field visible, as I'm adding explanatory notes about why Wilde owned certain books, their connection to his personal history, inscriptions within his copies, etc.
On 24 April 1895, Wilde’s library, along with all the Wilde family’s possessions, was auctioned off to pay his creditors, in particular the Marquess of Queensbury, who was determined to see Wilde thrown in prison and stripped of all his dignity. During the auction, many of Wilde’s belongings, including manuscripts, were stolen by looters; not all have been located by scholars. At the time, Wilde was awaiting trial. The loss of his books was a terrible blow.
Wilde’s collection of books, manuscripts and letters is now scattered across the globe. Some of the items from his library are held by institutions; others are in private hands. Based on the catalogue from the 1895 auction, Wilde owned around 2,000 books. Not all of them were individually listed in the catalogue. Some of the books that Wilde read and owned are alluded to in his letters and other records.
When you look through Wilde’s library and the comments against some titles, it may help to know that:
Improvements I will make over time:
References for this biography and catalogue:
Update August 2013: As a consequence of a family tragedy, I've lost most of my personal library. This is an insight into Wilde's predicament that I wouldn't wish on anyone. I hope to return to updating this catalogue if and when life improves and I recover my books, or buy/borrow replacements. People have pointed out some books in the catalogue that were printed after Wilde's death; when my circumstances are better I'll replace these with editions printed during Wilde's lifetime. I find that when you add books to a catalogue, it's not easy to specify the year of publication. The auction list from the sale of Wilde's belongings is also extremely vague; no care was taken in selling off the library of a disgraced man.
J.D. Ellevsen (curator of this catalogue)
Favorite authorsMatthew Arnold, Charles Baudelaire, Thomas Carlyle, Gustave Flaubert, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Joris-Karl Huysmans, John Keats, John Henry Newman, Plato, Edgar Allan Poe, John Ruskin, William Shakespeare, Algernon Charles Swinburne, William Makepeace Thackeray (Shared favorites)
Real nameOscar Wilde
Account typepublic, lifetime
Member sinceSep 1, 2011
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