In 1882, Oscar Wilde took break from his lecture tour of North America to meet his childhood idol, the aging poet Walt Whitman, who lived in Camden, New Jersey.
Their afternoon together is the stuff of literary legend. Wilde later recounted, “The kiss of Walt Whitman is still on my lips.”
On these special two episodes of The Gilded Gentleman, host Carl Raymond and guests take a look at the lives of Whitman and Wilde, two revolutionary writers, the times in which they lived, their surprising meeting, and how New York inspired them to move onto great fame and celebrity.
In part one, writer and historian Hugh Ryan (When Brooklyn Was Queer, The Women’s House of Detention) talks about how revolutionary Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was and how Whitman would have defined his same-sex attractions, which had not yet evolved into the concepts of sexuality and gender identification that we know today.
What was the New York and Brooklyn that Whitman knew? Hugh offers insight into just what that famous meeting between the older Whitman and the younger Wilde years later might have been like.
In part two, noted Wilde scholar and expert John Cooper joins Carl to envisions New York that Wilde would have seen upon his arrival.
John guides listeners on a journey to discover just who Wilde was at this point in his life and career, how he and the city of New York interacted with each other and just how Oscar would likely have defined and described his own much debated sexual identity.