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Oscar Wilde's iPod

David Owen Norris and guests hear the songs Oscar Wilde might have chosen for his iPod, in the hotel room where he was arrested. Guests include Wilde's grandson Merlin Holland.

David Owen Norris and guests listen to Oscar Wilde's favourite songs, in the room in the Cadogan Hotel, Knightsbridge, where he was arrested. The guests include Wilde's grandson, Merlin Holland, who has unearthed a whole series of popular songs about Wilde.

This was before his disgrace, while Wilde was a celebrity, and the songs are satirical but affectionate - we hear 'The Flippety Flop Man' and 'Quite Too Utterly Utter'. Other guests are Wilde scholar Owen Dudley Edwards and Franny Moyle, the author of the recent biography of Wilde's wife Constance.

Constance and Oscar gave great parties in their 'house beautiful' in Chelsea, and visitors would write poems - and songs - in their autograph books. David Owen Norris digs these out of the British Library, and discovers a song written by George Grossmith of 'Diary of a Nobody' fame - a song about a party, so we hear it, 'Keep on Talking.' Also from the autograph books comes a song about Mrs Wilde and her baby son; a now-forgotten side of Wilde, as a family man. We hear too the favourite song of Wilde's lover and nemesis 'Bosie', Alfred Lord Douglas, a Mozart aria about seduction, deception, and ruin.

Presenter David Owen Norris is a broadcaster, composer and concert pianist. He has arranged the songs, which are performed by Thomas Guthrie and jazz singer Gwyneth Herbert.

Producer: Elizabeth Burke
A Loftus Audio production for BBC Radio 4.

30 minutes

Last on

Sat 3 Dec 2011 10:30

Broadcast