Oscar Wilde pp 180-181 | Cite as

The Dramatist

  • Hesketh Pearson


George Alexander,1 the young and zealous actor who had just become manager of the St. James’s Theatre, begged Wilde to write him a modern comedy. Wilde was quite agreeable, but nothing happened. In the belief that cash would evoke inspiration, Alexander then insisted that he should take £100 in advance of royalties. Wilde was extremely agreeable, took the money, spent it, and hoped for more, but did not write a line of the play, and whenever the two happened to meet chatted away with entire composure about anything except what the actor-manager was bursting to ask him. Alexander was that rare creature: an artist who was also a man of business, or perhaps it would be truer to say that he was a man of business who was also an artist. He felt sure that Wilde could write a first-rate play, and, what was much more to the point, he felt sure that Wilde could write a box-office success. The thought that so much cash and prestige depended on the industry of the most indolent author he had ever come across maddened him, and at last the explosion occurred. Some twenty years later Alexander recalled it for my benefit:

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1979

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  • Hesketh Pearson

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