Completing the Works of Oscar Wilde

Collaborative Group

Professor Joseph Bristow, Dr. Yvonne Ivory, Dr. Rebecca N. Mitchell


Languages, Literatures, and Cultures


Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) counts among the best known and most quoted modern authors, who enjoyed––until the sensation caused by his 1895 trial and two-year prison sentence––a dazzling career as a major essayist, fabulist, dramatist, and poet. Wilde’s famous comedies such as The Importance of Being Earnest have been in repertory for decades; his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, remains a staple of university literature syllabi; and his work has been translated into so many languages that he assuredly ranks as a world author. In popular memory, he is recognized most of all for his epigrammatic wit. Yet only in recent years has Wilde’s large and diverse oeuvre been subject to comprehensive textual editing. Drawing on the expertise of three experienced editors who are positioned to access Wilde’s manuscripts in archives across the United States and Europe—Joseph Bristow, Rebecca N. Mitchell, and Yvonne Ivory—this editorial project draws the Oxford University Press Complete Works of Oscar Wilde to a conclusion. The research involves editing his famous epigrams, both in their published and manuscript forms, as well as a group of works that deserve to be better known among scholars and general readers: the lectures he delivered to many different audiences in Canada, England, Ireland, and the United States during the 1880s; numerous unpublished essays and reviews; and—perhaps most important—several unfinished dramas, which include courageous plays that address sensitive topics such as incest, adultery, and illegitimacy. Lastly, we will provide an annotated bibliography of the vast array of dubious works attributed to Wilde in the decades following his death. This will be the first edition to bring these works before the public with full scholarly apparatus, throwing light on formerly under-researched but vital aspects of a writer of global renown. The trio of collaborators has published widely on Wilde’s works, their most recent joint publication being Bristow and Mitchell’s Oscar Wilde’s Chatterton: Literary History, Romanticism, and the Art of Forgery (Yale University Press, 2015). Award period: July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2017