Tuesday, 17 July 2012

LETTERS OF NOTE: Don't Call Me John

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Another theatre-related Letter of Note, which follow from previous entries about playwrights answering their critics. I previously posted about Harold Pinter's retort to a lady who claimed not to understand The Birthday Party, and today it's the turn of Oscar Wilde.

In the 1890s Oscar Wilde was making a name for himself in polite society as a playwright, producing works like Lady Windermere's Fan, An Ideal Husband and that old standard of amateur dramatics, The Importance of Being Earnest. But in 1892 Wilde received a bad notice for one of his plays (probably Lady Windermere's Fan), and responded to the drama critic in question with a typical reposte - not defending his own views, but making fun of the critic's insistence on calling him John.

The text of the letter can be found here. As for Oscar Wilde on film, there are two clear candidates: Oscar Wilde (1960) starring Robert Morley, or Wilde (1997) starring Stephen Fry. I'll leave it to you to decide.

Daniel

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