Explore over 1500 printed items, manuscripts, letters, works of art and memorabilia relating to Oscar Wilde, the Irish playwright, poet and author who came to be regarded as one of the most successful dramatists of the Victorian era.
About the collection
Lady Eccles was a book collector who built one of the most comprehensive collections of material by and about Wilde in private hands. The collection began with the acquisition of Wilde’s correspondence with his friend Reginald Turner and expanded with the purchase of the H. Montgomery Hyde’s collection in 1962. Later additions came from the libraries of Mortimer L. Schiff, Lord Alfred Douglas, Wilde’s biographer Christopher Millard, Robert Ross and his son Vyvyan Holland. It was bequeathed to the British Library in 2003.
The collection includes:
- Approximately 1000 printed items representing Wilde’s works including translations. The printed items include privately printed pamphlets, unauthorised editions, author’s presentation copies and rare editions with limited print runs. Periodicals which Wilde contributed to are also represented including The Women’s World and The Chameleon. Works by and about Wilde’s friends, family, supporters and critics are also included in the collection
- The collection of manuscripts contains literary, personal and family papers of Wilde, and correspondence with and between his friends and associates. Literary manuscripts include autograph poems, playscripts, translations and essays.
- Ephemera including newspaper cuttings, theatre programmes, posters, leaflets, music scores, LPs and postage stamps
What is available online?
Catalogues and finding aids
- The collection is fully catalogued thanks to the generous support of Dr Bill Zachs and The Bay & Paul Foundations. It can be found on the British Library’s main online catalogue Explore the British Library and can be identified by the shelfmark prefix “Eccles”
- Manuscripts and letters can be found in the archives and manuscripts catalogue at Add MS 81619-81884
- Find help online, Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm using 'Quick Chat'
- For specialist assistance, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- You can view digitised versions of many of Oscar Wilde's manuscripts and playscripts on the Discovering Literature website. These include early handwritten notes for A Woman of No Importance and a corrected typescript of The Importance of Being Earnest from the Lady Eccles collection.
What is available in our Reading Rooms?
- Registered readers can request items to the Rare Books and Music Reading Room using Explore the British Library.
- A small number of items are restricted for conservation reasons. Please contact email@example.com for further information.
- Items found in the archives and manuscripts catalogue can be requested to the Manuscripts Reading Room. Please contact the Manuscripts Reference Team for information about accessing restricted items.
- Other manuscripts and playscripts by Oscar Wilde in the Manuscript Collections include those presented to the British Museum by Robert Ross in 1909 (Add MS 37942-37948).
What is available in other organisations?
- Robert Ross Memorial Collection at University College, Oxford
- Collection of manuscripts and letters at the University of Leeds
- The Oscar Wilde collection at Trinity College Dublin
- The Dalhousie Wilde collection at Dalhousie University