This article looks at the generous bequest made in 2003 by Mary Viscountess Eccles of her extensive collection of books, manuscripts and ephemera relating to Oscar Wilde. Containing works pertaining to Wilde, his friends and family and the literary and artistic world of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Great Britain, the collection paints a vivid picture of the age in which Wilde lived. Cataloguing his rise to fame and his subsequent fall from grace, the collection is not merely an accumulation of his works, but a permanent shrine to Wilde’s colourful character, which is evident not only in his literary works but also in his inscriptions to friends and family and even the input he had in the decoration and ornamentation of his works. By bringing together such a wide selection of material and authors, Lady Eccles has created an enduring record of Wilde’s life, allowing each item to be viewed in the context of itself and also in light of its significance within the collection.
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