Did Oscar Wilde ever make any sound recordings reciting any of his work?

Sound recording was still in it’s infancy before Oscar Wilde’s death, and as he was a writer and not a performing artist I don’t know whether or not this new technology was of any interest to him at all. But he had such a way with words that I would love to be able to hear some of it in his own voice.

Did Wilde ever make any recordings reciting any of his poems or speeches or prose? If so, are any of these recordings commercially available?

No such recordings are mentioned in any of the three Wilde biographies I’ve read.

heck, for all the radio broadcasts C.S. Lewis did, apparently the only extant recordings are those he did of THE FOUR LOVES.

I do have a CD made from tapes made from wax cylinders recorded in the 1920s by Aleister Crowley- it’s gone through two packagings- mine is titled THE BEAST SPEAKS (he also sings!)

A few years back, NPR did a series about old sound recordings…it was called “Lost Stolen, or Strayed”. It was fascinating! The BBC had some ancient recordings of people in the late Victorian period…I heard the voice of Sir Arthur Sullivan, Florence Nightingale, and several other people.
It was kind of ctreepy…hearing the voice of someone dead for over a century!

Is it true they have some type of recording of Brahms playing one of his own compositions? Pity this poor, un-musically inclined soul if this is not so.

Well the quality’s not very good, but you can hear it here. Sometimes the internet can be very cool.

There is a supposed recording of Oscar Wilde’s voice, but unfortunately numerous sound and early recording experts seem to have concluded that it is a forgery. You can read the story and judge the recording for yourself here. And here is an even more extensive article about the recording, with a lot of debunking.

NPR’s Lost and Found Sound.

Efforts to play old recordings.

For what it’s worth: Caspar Citron, the earliest known source of the alleged recording of Oscar Wilde, was an unsuccessful independent candidate for New York’s 18th Congressional district in 1954. He was the host of The Caspar Citron Show on New York’s WOR radio station as late as 2000.

As the nearest substitute to a recording, Richard Ellmann’s biography includes an appendix reproducing Helen Potter’s transcription of one of his lectures, complete with her notation for recording his accenting of words and phrases. (Potter heard one of his lectures, then later impersonated him and included her notes in a 1891 book.)

I find it particularly interesting that in his one voice recording, Sir Arthur Sullivan prophetically laments that with this new technology, an awful lot of really terrible music will be preserved for all time.

Why, yes, I do perform in a Gilbert and Sullivan company, as a matter of fact.


Well, if you want odd uses of 19th century vocl recordings, Walt Whitman was used as the basis of the dialect in Gangs of New York. Turns out he was fascinated with the bowrey boys [ :eek: ]