Examining Oscar Wilde’s Work
NEW YORK, February 24, 2011 –

Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library is pleased to present “Oscar Gives Himself Away: Reading Oscar Wilde’s Presentation Copies,” a lecture from University of Delaware Senior Research Fellow Mark Samuels Lasner. The lecture is part of the Book History Colloquium, a continuing series exploring book history, print culture, the book arts, and bibliographical research.


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Lasner will discuss Oscar Wilde's "presentation copies," or copies of his own works presented as tokens of love, friendship, and self-promotion. Based on the study of several hundred inscribed books in public and private collections (including Lasner’s own), the talk will focus on the unusual, and often overlooked, importance of presentation copies for biographical and bibliographical research.  Wilde presented his books to many of the most significant figures of the late Victorian literary and art world, including Aubrey Beardsley, Robert Browning, Max Beerbohm, Herbert Beerbohm-Tree, Sara Bernhardt, Stephane Mallarmé, William Rothenstein, George Bernard Shaw, Ellen Terry, his wife, Constance Wilde, as well as Lord Alfred Douglas.  Wilde’s work was widely read and received by his contemporaries, and his presentation copies testify to the centrality of his place in Victorian culture. 

Mark Samuels Lasner is a collector, bibliographer, and an expert on the art and literature of late 19th century Britain. He is the author of many literary and bibliographical texts.

The Book History Colloquium series is free and open to the public. All events are held on Columbia's Morningside Campus in Butler Library’s room 523 from 6:00–7:30 PM. For detailed speaker information or information on upcoming events, please visit /content/libraryweb/indiv/rbml/exhibitions/bhc.html or e-mail Gerald Cloud at gc2339@columbia.edu.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library owns over 500,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 28 million manuscripts in nearly 3,000 separate manuscript collections. It is particularly strong in English and American literature and history, classical authors, children‘s literature, education, mathematics and astronomy, economics and banking, photography, the history of printing, New York City politics, librarianship, and the performing arts. Individual collections are as eclectic as they are extensive. For more information, please see: /content/libraryweb/indiv/rbml.html

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.  

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02/24/11 LMK