An Ideal Husband: Second Edition, Revised

Overview

One of the nineteenth century’s most successful and most frequently revived plays, An Ideal Husband has divided critics more than any other of Wilde’s plays. Treating political intrigue, financial fraud, blackmail, scandal and spin, and the role of women in public life, it is a play which engaged with issues of vital importance to its late-Victorian audience, which continue to resonate today.

Sos Eltis, a specialist in Victorian drama and its relation to women's issues, provides...

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An Ideal Husband: Second Edition, Revised

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Overview

One of the nineteenth century’s most successful and most frequently revived plays, An Ideal Husband has divided critics more than any other of Wilde’s plays. Treating political intrigue, financial fraud, blackmail, scandal and spin, and the role of women in public life, it is a play which engaged with issues of vital importance to its late-Victorian audience, which continue to resonate today.

Sos Eltis, a specialist in Victorian drama and its relation to women's issues, provides a stimulating new perspective on An Ideal Husband, through an introduction that looks at its relation with contemporary social purity campaigns, women's rights, and political scandals. The introduction also gives a substantial performance history, with particular reference to the play's film versions and the influential Peter Hall theatre production.

A celebrated and feared English ghost is outraged when the new American owners of his haunting place refuse to take him seriously and actually fight back against him.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up Lovers of Oscar Wilde's stories will delight in this new illustrated version of The Canterville Ghost if the picture book format does not keep them from finding it. Wilde's story of an American family who moves into Canterville Chase and annoys a weary ghost with their lack of belief in him is a wry commentary on the ways of British nobility and of their hard-headed American cousins. Like many of Wilde's tales, this one is filled with sophisticated allusions to his social and political milieu, but ends as sentimental romance. Zwerger's wry pictures highlight this tone beautifully. Her toothless ghost is round and comical, as would suit a ghost whom no one fears, and her heroine, Virginia, is young and sweetly boyish. All of the illustrations are set against misty gray watercolor backgrounds except for the climactic scene, echoed on the front cover, in which the tiny huntsmen on the wallpaper call out to Virginia to ``Go Back.'' This will make a fine read-aloud for audiences of secondary students who are prepared to savor Wilde's ironic humor and Zwerger's delicate watercolors. Barbara Chatton, College of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781408137208
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 10/10/2013
  • Series: New Mermaids Series
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,393,389
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 5.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Sos Eltis is a Fellow in English at Brasenose College, Oxford, and a member of the Oxford University English Faculty. She is also a senior member of the Oxford University Dramatic Society and a member of the board of Oxford Playhouse Theatre. She has written extensively on Victorian and modern drama, and on Oscar Wilde in particular.

Russell Jackson is Allardyce Nicoll Chair in Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham.

Biography

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born on October 16, 1854, to an intellectually prominent Dublin family. His father, Sir William Wilde, was a renowned physician who was knighted for his work as medical adviser to the 1841 and 1851 Irish censuses; his mother, Lady Jane Francesca Elgee, was a poet and journalist. Wilde showed himself to be an exceptional student. While at the Royal School in Enniskillen, he took First Prize in Classics. He continued his studies at Trinity College, Dublin, on scholarship, where he won high honors, including the Demyship Scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford.

At Oxford, Wilde engaged in self-discovery, through both intellectual and personal pursuits. He fell under the influence of the aesthetic philosophy of Walter Pater, a tutor and author who inspired Wilde to create art for the sake of art alone. It was during these years that Wilde developed a reputation as an eccentric and a foppish dresser who always had a flower in his lapel. Wilde won his first recognition as a writer when the university awarded him the Newdigate Prize for his poem "Ravenna."

Wilde went from Oxford to London, where he published his first volume of verse, Poems, in 1881. From 1882 to 1884, he toured the United States, Ireland, and England, giving a series of lectures on Aestheticism. In America, between speaking engagements, he met some of the great literary minds of the day, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Walt Whitman. His first play, Vera, was staged in New York but did poorly. After his marriage to Constance Lloyd in 1884 and the birth of his two sons, Wilde began to make his way into London's theatrical, literary, and homosexual scenes. He published Intentions, a collection of dialogues on aesthetic philosophy, in 1891, the year he met Lord Alfred Douglas, who became his lover and his ultimate downfall. Wilde soon produced several successful plays, including Lady Windermere's Fan (1892) and A Woman of No Importance (1893). Wilde's popularity was short-lived, however. In 1894, during the concurrent runs of his plays An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, he became the subject of a homosexual scandal that led him to withdraw all theater engagements and declare bankruptcy. Urged by many to flee the country rather than face a trial in which he would surely be found guilty, Wilde chose instead to remain in England. Arrested in 1895 and found guilty of "homosexual offenses," Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labor and began serving time in Wandsworth prison. He was later transferred to the detention center in Reading Gaol, where he composed De Profundis, a dramatic monologue written as a letter to Lord Alfred Douglas that was published in 1905. Upon his release, Wilde retreated to the Continent, where he lived out the rest of his life under a pseudonym. He published his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, in 1898 while living in exile.

During his lifetime, Wilde was most often the center of controversy. The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was serialized in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890 and published in book form the next year, is considered to be Wilde's most personal work. Scrutinized by critics who questioned its morality, the novel portrays the author's internal battles and arrives at the disturbing possibility that "ugliness is the only reality." Oscar Wilde died penniless, of cerebral meningitis, in Paris on November 30, 1900. He is buried in Paris's Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Good To Know

To make ends meet, Wilde edited the popular ladies' periodical Woman's Day from 1887 to 1889.

When in exile on the Continent, Wilde was forced to live under the alias Sebastian Melmoth.

It is rumored that Wilde's last written words were found in his journal, left behind in the Left Bank flophouse where he died: "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has got to go."

Wilde is buried in the Paris cemetery of Père Lachaise; there, he keeps company with other famous artists, including Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 16, 1854
    2. Place of Birth:
      Dublin, Ireland
    1. Date of Death:
      November 30, 1900
    2. Place of Death:
      Paris, France

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