Thomas Griffiths Wainwright

  • Jocelyn Hackforth-Jones


Oscar Wilde in his article ‘Pen, Pencil and Poison’, best described the versatile personality and varied career of the remarkable Mr Wainwright. ‘Thomas Griffiths Wainwright, the subject of this briefmemoir, though of an extremely artistic temperament, followed many masters other than art, being not merely a poet and a painter an art-critic, an antiquarian, and a writer of prose, an amateur of beautiful things, and a dilettante of things delightful, but also a forger of no mean or ordinary capabilities, and as subtle and secret poisoner almost without rival in this or any age.’1 While Wilde could find it in himself to admire such a man who was after all the consummate dandy, later writers did not share his enthusiasm seizing upon the slightest pretext to condemn him as a vile murderer. One said that the effect of his self portrait ‘was to create a feeling of instinctive repulsion, as if one were looking straight into the glassy eye of a poisonous snake’2 Be that as it may there is no evidence to suggest that Wainwright was a poisoner.


Tonal Variation Sensational Report Poisonous Snake Beautiful Thing Pencil Drawing 
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Copyright information

© Text, Jocelyn Hackforth-Jones 1977

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  • Jocelyn Hackforth-Jones

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