Oscar Wilde made many handwritten changes and additions to this typescript version of his play An Ideal Husband. The typist has standardised Wilde’s stage directions in the handwritten draft and underlined them in red ink. It is possible that this typed version might have been used for early rehearsals and that Wilde made further changes after hearing his words recited by actors. The stamp of ‘Mrs Marshall’s Type Writing Office, 126 Strand’ can be seen on the title page. The date on the stamp is 10 March 1784. Act III was stamped on 16 January 1894, showing that the play was with the typewriting office for at least two months, or that Wilde sent his draft in more than one delivery.
What sort of changes did Wilde make to the script at this stage?
Wilde makes many changes throughout this draft, cutting some sections of speech, and adding large pieces of new dialogue. Notes are seen in lead pencil, purple pencil and black ink, showing that Wilde worked through this draft in multiple sittings. Mrs Cheveley’s lines, ‘Politics are my only pleasure. You see nowadays it is not fashionable to flirt till one is fifty, or to be romantic till one is sixty-five’ (folio 8), have been scored through. These lines appear in the published version with the ages of forty for flirting and forty-five for being romantic. Details like this really mattered to Wilde and he constantly changed his mind about previously made changes.
- Article by:
- Catherine Angerson
- Popular culture, Fin de siècle, Power and politics
Catherine Angerson explores the serious questions Oscar Wilde raises in An Ideal Husband under the guise of a frivolous society play.