a curious invitation last tuesday society
a curious invitation robert carlyles house last tuesday society national trust londonTickets for Neil McKenna on Oscar Wilde
Samuel Foote at the Cafe royal


Neil McKenna
OSCAR WILDE - The Dramatist

Tuesday 11th October 2016
Doors open at 6:30 pm, Talk commences at 7:00 pm

Oscar Wilde is one of those unusual writers who is better remembered for his personality, image and private life than his actual written work. Though he was a poet, novelist, essayist and journalist, he saw himself primarily as a dramatist, saying “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”

As a playwright he can be placed firmly in the line of the great Irish comedy dramatists such as Sheridan and Goldsmith. His four society plays from the 1890s, beginning with “Lady Windermere’s Fan” may appear to be lightweight comedies of manners, yet the subtitle of “The Importance of Being Earnest” - "A Trivial Comedy for Serious People" - hints at the more universal themes that underlie it.

Wilde was a regular at the Café Royal, then at the height of its fin de siècle eminence, and often dined there with his lover Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas. It was here in 1895 that Wilde took his fateful decision to prosecute Bosie’s father, the Marquis of Queensberry for libel, launching a legal process that ultimately led to Wilde’s own conviction for gross indecency and his imprisonment, ruin and premature death.

Neil McKenna
Neil McKenna’s The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde charts fully for the first time Oscar’s astonishing erotic odyssey through Victorian London’s sexual underworld.

Oscar Wilde emerges as a man driven personally and creatively by his powerful desires for sex with men, and Neil McKenna argues compellingly and convincingly that Oscar’s Wilde’s life and work can only be fully understood and appreciated in terms of his sexuality.

Tickets £20 including a glass of prosecco. Please click here to buy.


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In 1863, a French wine merchant called Daniel Nicholas Thévenon and his wife arrived in England in a bid to escape the clutches of creditors in Paris. So began a story that grew out of bankruptcy and culminated in the creation of Regent Street’s Café Royal: a truly remarkable and original establishment with what was considered at one point to have the greatest wine cellar in the world and was reputed for its excellent hospitality, dining and entertainment. 

Frequented by writers and artists such as Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, the conversations, inspirations and discussions at ‘The Café’ were profound. Arthur Conan Doyle, H G Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Rudyard Kipling, W B Yeats, Walter Sickert and James McNeill Whistler were all patrons. Distinguished figures such as Winston Churchill, Augustus John, D H Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Noël Coward, Jacob Epstein and Graham Greene were also often seen.