Oscar Wilde and ‘The Woman’s World’

Another fascinating vignette from Beerbohm”s Aspects of Wilde (Ashmolean, Oxford), alluding to his appointment as editor of The Woman’s World. If anyone is tempted to think of Wilde as an airy-fairy figure, that misconception is easily dispelled by the organised professionalism he showed, both in practical and creative terms, when he took command of the magazine. WW. Wemyss Reid, the General Manager of Cassell & Co., wrote to Wilde in April 1887, sounding him out as a potential editor. Wilde replied with a detailed proposal on possible changes to the magazine, including changing the title from The Lady’s World to The Woman’s World. This reflected what he saw as the necessity of moving with the times, accommodating a new generation of liberated women who did not wish to be thought of as mere “ladies”, interested only in fashion and the latest recipes. Max Beerbohm’s drawing shows two supporters, a “fashion” girl and rather ferocious-looking champion of Women’s Rights. This is an apt portrayal of how Wilde’s editorial policy at TWW successfully combined the traditional themes of society life with the need for a new platform for radical opinion. In May 1887, he signed a contract for the editorship, to work two mornings a week and be paid a weekly salary of £6.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s