Despite famously describing fashion as “a form of ugliness so intolerable we have to change it every six months”, Oscar Wilde accepted the position of editor of The Woman’s World in 1887 and stayed in this role until 1889. Strictly speaking, it was a part-time job – two mornings a week for the princely sum of £6. It’s not clear whether he made the quote before, during or after his employment.
I came across this little known fact when leafing through a copy of The Woman’s World 1889, a heavy tome which I subsequently purchased at a bookshop in Windsor, UK.
To my surprise, in bold upper case letters on the title page, were the words:
“THE WOMAN’S WORLD, EDITED BY OSCAR WILDE”.
A brief Google search revealed a number of references to what I can only describe as Wilde’s other guilty secret. It turns out that it is a well known fact in literary circles that Wilde was actually in gainful employment for a period of two years, during which time he managed to produce a number of important works, including The Picture of Dorian Gray. Less well known perhaps is an article from this journal entitled “Note on Some Modern Poets” by the Editor (pp108-112).
There is also another article curiously entitled “Muffs” by one Mrs Oscar Wilde, illustrated (pp 174-178), which might explain a few things…
The volume is large (ca 24cm x 31cm x 4cm) and heavy (ca 2.6kg). I haven’t been able to find any other copies on the Internet, although there are plenty of modern facsimiles for sale.
This is the genuine article; the photos above give some idea of its condition. If any completist Wilde collectors are interested in taking it off my hands, please get in touch.