Wilde, the web and the world: the British Library comes to Hong Kong

Add MS 81785 1. Portrait of Oscar Wilde by Napoleon Sarony, New York, 1882. © The British Library Board.
  • British Library to stage Oscar Wilde event at Hong Kong International Literary Festival, November 2018
  • Original Wilde manuscripts to be made available on Library’s Chinese and English language websites
  • Related events at Hong Kong Central Library and the University of Hong Kong

The life, work and literary legacy of Oscar Wilde will be centre-stage at a special event taking place at Hong Kong International Literary Festival on 4 November 2018. The British Library Session will feature renowned theatre directors Tang Shu-wing and Dominic Dromgoole (former Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe), Dr Marco Wang of The University of Hong Kong and British Library curator Alexandra Ault, who has responsibility for one of the world’s most important collections of original Oscar Wilde manuscripts, held by the British Library.

The panel event – which will explore stage and film adaptations of Wilde, connections between the Hong Kong and UK literary landscapes, and Wilde’s status for LGBTQ audiences and creators – is one of several to take place in Hong Kong as part of the Library’s three-year programme to share its collections with people across mainland China and Hong Kong.

A subsequent public talk at Hong Kong Central Library (6 November) will explore the past, present and future of the British Library and the power of digitisation and social media to engage audiences worldwide with the literary and historical treasures held by memory institutions like the British Library and HKCL. An additional workshop for students, taking place at the University of Hong Kong (5 November) will look at the role of the digital humanities in transforming the ways that library collections can be used and interrogated.

To coincide with the Oscar Wilde event at Hong Kong International Literary Festival, the Library is making digitised versions of all of its Oscar Wilde play scripts available online via the Library’s Discovering Literature and Digitised Manuscript sites. Additional material will be made available on the Chinese language site. The Library will also run an online campaign on WeChat and Weibo in November, inviting participants to translate a quote from Oscar Wilde into Chinese in as creative a way as possible. We are also working with Hong Kong - Taiwan bi-city new media art team Dimension Plus on an exciting visual project to be shared online.

Alexandra Ault, the British Library’s Curator of Modern Archives and Manuscripts, said: “Oscar Wilde is a writer with a truly global audience and remains one of the most-performed playwrights of the nineteenth century; by making his drafts available online to people in Hong Kong and across the world, we want to enable lovers of literature to explore for themselves the original manuscripts that provide a window into Wilde’s creative process. Our event at Hong Kong International Literary Festival provides the perfect introduction to the many perspectives on Wilde, in performance, through scholarship and as an eminent figure in LGBTQ history.”

Jamie Andrews, Head of Culture and Learning at the British Library, said: “As part of our international cultural programme, and as custodians of one of the greatest Oscar Wilde collections in the world, we are looking forward to meeting audiences at the HKILF this autumn, and bringing world-leading practitioners and thinkers together to discuss Wilde and his rich legacy today.”

These events are the latest stage of an ambitious cultural exchange programme, The British Library in China: connecting through culture and learning, which has previously seen exhibitions at the National Library of China in Beijing, at Mu Xin Art Museum in Wuzhen, and, most recently, at Shanghai Library.

The initiative is funded by HM Government and also includes a programme of knowledge exchange between staff at the British Library and its counterparts in China, and the development of the Library’s first Chinese website Discovering Literature, introducing more than 200 digitised literary treasures from the Library’s literary collections, as well as in-depth interpretative articles, short films and interactive elements: www.britishlibrary.cn/zh-hk/. The Library has also grown its audience across China on its new social media platforms WeChat and Weibo.

For more information, images and interviews:

Brunswick Arts

Damian Chandler

+852 3512 5060



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Notes to Editors

The Hong Kong International Literary Festival (HKILF), founded in 2001, is an annual event held over ten days in autumn, featuring established and emerging writers from around the world in a programme that includes discussions, literary lunches and dinners, workshops, lectures, debates, book signings, and readings.

The stellar list of past HKILF authors includes literary luminaries such as Seamus Heaney, Louis de Bernières, Colm Tóibín, Jung Chang, and Yann Martel.

HKILF is organized and coordinated by Hong Kong International Literary Festival Limited, a non-profit, charitable literary arts organization which also manages the annual Young Readers Festival (YRF).

The British Library events taking place in Hong Kong are:

The British Library Session: Oscar Wilde 20.30 – 22.00, 4 November 2018, JC Cube Tai Kwun. Admission is free, but booking is essential.

The British Library: past, present and future 19.00 – 20.30, 6 November 2018, Activity Room 1, G/F, Hong Kong Central Library. Admission is free, but booking is essential.  

The British Library, digital humanities and your research’ workshop at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) 5 November 2018 (for HKU students only).

For more information:

Ben Sanderson
The British Library
t: +44 (0)1937 546 126
e: ben.sanderson@bl.uk

Evenings and weekends:
+44 (0) 20 7412 7150

Press Office contacts

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