Corrected typescript of Act I of Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde


This is a typescript of Act I of Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde, which contains many handwritten changes and additions.

Wilde is mostly making changes to the stage directions. It is possible that this typescript was used by him to make changes once he had seen the play performed with the actors, either during rehearsals or after opening night.

What else can we learn from this manuscript?

The stamp of ‘Mrs Marshall’s Type Writing Office, 126 Strand’ can be seen on the front cover and on the first page. The Strand in central London is a short walk from St James’s Theatre where the play was first performed, and from Carlton House Terrace, where the play is set, at Lady Windermere’s London residence. This shows how many aspects of Wilde’s production of Lady Windermere’s Fan, from the practicalities of producing scripts, through to the staging and the action of the play, are centred on the area around St James’s in London.

This area of London was at the heart of ‘London Society’, which Wilde is commenting on in Lady Windermere’s Fan. ‘London Society’ or ‘High Society’ refers to the status of the political and social elites of the time. Continued membership of ‘Society’ was bound by a strict behavioural code, and breaking these codes would mean you were ostracised, as has happened to Mrs Erlynne in Lady Windermere’s Fan. Throughout the play Mrs Erlynne attempts to win back her status, and as the play goes on, Wilde exposes the amount of concealment and hypocrisy that is required to keep up the appearance of adhering to ‘Society’s’ rules.

Full title:
Oscar Wilde, typescript of Act I of Lady Windermere's Fan, with autograph corrections
Manuscript / Draft / Playscript
Oscar Wilde
© Estate of Oscar Wilde
Held by
British Library
Add MS 81621

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Lady Windermere’s Fan

Created by: Oscar Wilde

Lady Windermere’s Fan was first performed at St James’s Theatre on 20 February 1892 to rave reviews, and ...