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Oscar Wilde became well known for his flamboyant style of dress. Usage terms Public Domain. By the early s, it looked as if Wilde — then in his late 30s — might never have a successful career as a dramatist. Born in Dublin in and educated at the University of Oxford, Wilde spent his 20s as a freelance poet, Sex Windermere women, critic, and well-dressed man about town, yearning all the time to be taken seriously as a playwright. His first play, a tragedy called Verafailed when it was produced in New York; his second, a dour historical work in Shakespearian verse called The Duchess of Paduawas rejected by the actress who commissioned it.

Despite receiving attention for his essays, and causing a scandalous success with his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray — there were calls for the work to be burnt because of its homosexual themes — it looked likely that theatrical success would elude him. Eventually Wilde was persuaded to try his hand at comedy. He was interested by contemporary French drama, where plays full of social intrigues and unlikely plot twists were all the rage, and also read the wildly funny comedies of English dramatists of the late s.

Wilde began work on the script during a summer visit in to the Lake District of northern England, which gave him many of the names in the play Lake Windermere was nearby, while another character is named after the town of Darlington in County Durham.

He continued refining the script through the rest of that year, sharpening its dialogue and polishing the plot. Both actor's lines and stage directions have been changed by Wilde in pencil. This volume was originally stapled together but has been disbound for conservation reasons.

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Wilde had finally won the success he craved. Set over four acts that occupy a hour period, the play begins in the drawing room of the grand London residence of the young and apparently loving couple Lord and Lady Windermere. Lady Windermere is appalled and does her best to find out the truth. Her husband denies that he is having an affair. The second act is set that same evening.

Both Lady Windermere and her guests are astonished when Mrs Erlynne appears at the ball; even worse, it appears that Lord Windermere has invited her. Humiliated, Lady Windermere decides that she will leave her husband for another lover, Lord Darlington. Mrs Erlynne, meanwhile, seems determined to marry one of her rich society friends — with financial assistance, naturally, from Lord Windermere.

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She debates whether to return to her husband, only to be confronted yet again by Mrs Erlynne, who insists she must. When Lord Windermere unexpectedly arrives, Lady Windermere hides, leaving her fan on the table by mistake.

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Mrs Erlynne kindly covers up for her and pretends that Lady Windermere has never been there. In the final act, the truth is uncovered — or at least some of it is. Twenty years later, she has reappeared under an assumed name, and proceeds to blackmail Lord Windermere, threatening to reveal that she is not in fact dead as Lady Windermere has always believedand thus bring shame upon the household.

Yet, when this is all revealed to the assembled cast, Lady Windermere Sex Windermere women out of the room, and her husband decides to keep the secret from her so as to preserve the happiness of their marriage. Likewise, she decides not to admit that she was on the point of leaving him. Mrs Erlynne cheerfully departs for overseas, leaving numerous mysteries and secrets behind her. Yet the play is far more radical than it first appears. He died in exile and poverty in Paris a few years later. It is all the funnier for so being so mercilessly precise about the world it mocks, and genuinely mischievous in its hint that the secret to a happy marriage is for both partners to keep secrets from one another.

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Andrew Dickson is an author, journalist and critic. A former arts editor at the Guardian in London, he writes regularly for the paper and appears as a broadcaster for the BBC and elsewhere. He lives in London, and his website is andrewjdickson. The text in this article is available under the Creative Commons. Choose Yes please to open the survey in a new browser window or tab, and then complete it when you are ready.

An introduction to Lady Windermere's Fan. Photographs of Oscar Wilde, Oscar Wilde became well known for his flamboyant style of dress View images from this item The background to the play By the early s, it looked as if Wilde — then in his late 30s — might never have a successful career as a dramatist.

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View images from this item View images from this item 1. Synopsis Set over four acts that occupy a hour period, the play begins in the drawing room of the grand London residence of the young and apparently loving couple Lord and Lady Windermere. Written by Andrew Dickson Andrew Dickson is an author, journalist and critic. Share this. British Library newsletter up to our newsletter. Supported since inception by. British Library website satisfaction survey Take part in our web survey!

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