A view of Oakley Street shortly after Lady Wilde’s death
Name:Lady Jane Francesca Agnes (Speranza) Wilde
Dates:1826 - 1896
Address: 87 Oakley Street, SW3
Dates at address:1887 - 1896
Lady Jane Wilde was a supporter of the Young Ireland Movement despite her protestant roots. Daughter of a wealthy family she had an excellent education, fluent in French, German, Italian and ancient Greek and a good classicist. She also had an active imagination, inventing a family tie to Dante amongst other fantasies. Married to Sir William Wilde in 1851 they had three children, including Oscar Wilde.
In 1946 Wilde began publishing nationalist poetry in the Nation under her pen-name Speranza, calling for armed insurrection. Poems, a collection of her poetry, was published in 1864. She also translated prose and poems from across Europe. Her house became a salon “where a guest met all the Dublin celebrities in literature, art and the drama,” including a young Bram Stoker. Family scandal and the death of William in 1876 caused her to move to London in 1879. Here she continued her salons and published books on folklore.
Chelsea’s Wildes combined to produce some of the most talked about and well-attended parties in London. At first they came for her but eventually she had to recognise, “I suppose I shall now be known as the Mother of Oscar”. Crushed by his arrest, it was his decision to leave England that destroyed her. She wrote, “If you stay, even if you go to prison, you will always be my son…but if you go, I will never speak to you again.” Dying of bronchitis she asked to see Oscar but was refused.
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