For someone who died before the age of 50, playwright/novelist/poet/bon vivant Oscar Wilde certainly left his mark on the world. The author of “The Importance of Being Earnest”, “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and “De Profundis” is as least as well known for his life as for his work—and perhaps that would have pleased him. After all, he wrote, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
Going through customs in New York in 1882, Mr. Wilde famously quipped: “I have nothing to declare…except my genius.” That remark inspired the title of an upcoming series of classes about Wilde and his many creative outlets: Oscar Wilde: Nothing Except My Genius.
Created by journalist/teacher Janis Hashe 10 years ago in California, the five-week series will examine a part of Wilde’s life and a genre of his work each week. The venue, The English Rose Tea Room, will provide a mid-class teabreak with an English-style “pudding” (“dessert” to Americans).
“I first discovered ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ as a young girl and thought it was hilarious. I still do,” said Ms. Hashe. “That led to a journey of learning about Oscar Wilde, the man. He had an amazing and tragic life that still fascinates me.” Ms. Hashe has visited many of the major sites in Wilde’s history: His birthplace in Dublin, Trinity University in that city where he first matriculated, Magdalen College at Oxford, where he received his “First”, the London house in Tite Street where some of his most famous work was written, and his grave in Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.
“I almost feel that I actually knew Oscar,” said Ms. Hashe, “and I love sharing what an unexpected man he was in so many ways.”
Oscar Wilde: Nothing Except My Genius will be held at The English Rose Tea Room, 1401 Market St., Chattanooga 37402, from 6:30–8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Jan. 15, 22, 29 and Feb. 5, 12. $150 includes tea/desserts each class. Individual classes are $35.
Jan. 15: Young Dubliner/The Children’s Stories
Jan. 22: Prince of Oxford: The Essays
Jan. 29: Lord of London: The Plays (“Earnest”, “Salome”)
Feb. 5: No Exit: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Feb. 22: Sebastian Melmoth: The Poems (“The Ballad of Reading Gaol”)
Pre-registration is required. Maximum 15 students. To register and for more information, contact Janis Hashe at 423 622-2862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.