An Ideal Husband. With Author’s Inscription (1899)
Author: Oscar Wilde
Book ID: 64711
An Ideal Husband. By the Author of Lady Windermere’s Fan. London: Leonard Smither’s and Co., 1899. First Edition. One Thousand Copies printed. Pp, 211, uncut. Bound in publisher’s salmon pink cloth covers, gilt design by Charles Ricketts. Cloth lightly faded and soiled, corners lightly bumped; contents pages very good condition. Housed in custom made quarter morocco clamshell box. [Mason 386].
Pasted next to title page on a small sheet of notepaper is Oscar Wilde’s signature and autograph address:
‘Oscar Wilde, ‘9 Charles St., Grosvenor Sqre., London.’
This address, 9 Charles Street (now named Carlos Place) off Grosvenor Square in Mayfair, was the principal London residence of Wilde until his marriage to Constance Lloyd in 1884, soon after which he and his wife set up home in Tite Street, Chelsea.
Inspired by a story heard by his friend Frank Harris while in Egypt and subsequently told to Wilde, who dedicated the published play to him, the action revolves around blackmail and political corruption, and touches on the themes of public and private honour. The play opened on January 3rd, 1895, at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, to a standing ovation from the Prince of Wales and prominent members of the British Government, and continued for 124 performances. That very same establishment would soon turn its back on Wilde after his fall from grace in April of that year (Ellmann: Oscar Wilde, p. 411).
The play remained unpublished until after Wilde’s release from prison. The published version differs slightly from the performed play. Wilde added many passages and cut others. prominent additions included written stage directions and character descriptions.