I 'Believe in Willie Hughes': The Portrait of Mr W.H.

Bickle, Sharon ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7151-3733 and Heneghan, Marie (2019) I 'Believe in Willie Hughes': The Portrait of Mr W.H. In: Critical Insights: Oscar Wilde. Grey House Publishing, Amenia, United States, pp. 160-172. ISBN 9781642653090


Abstract

Oscar Wilde’s The Portrait of Mr W. H. positions itself at the site of one of Literary History’s great mysteries: the identity of the young man of William Shakespeare’s sonnets. Framing the narrator’s obsessive pursuit of the young man is the title’s portrait of Willie Hughes, which is presented from the very start in the context of a discussion of literary forgeries. In fact, the portrait is a doubled lie: the name of Shakespeare’s boy-actor, Willie Hughes, is created from the fabric of the sonnets themselves, while the portrait is revealed as the work of a print shop in Holborn. Nevertheless, the forgery exists not to conceal the lie of Willie Hughes, but rather to reveal a truth. This chapter contextualise this unusual and often overlooked text within Wilde’s oeuvre. While it is often the question of the forgery that draws the attention of critics here we focus not on the way it spotlights the factitious passions of the “inexpert” reader and the way this then authorises Shakespeare’s, and ultimately Wilde’s, male-centred desire.


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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: No
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Humanities and Communication (1 Mar 2019 -)
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2020 04:11
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2020 04:01
Uncontrolled Keywords: Wilde, The Portrait of Mr W.H., Decadence, Late-Victorian literature, Queer, Sonnets, Shakespeare, Celebrity, Fan Culture, desire, forgery, Literary History
Fields of Research (2008): 20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2005 Literary Studies > 200503 British and Irish Literature
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9502 Communication > 950203 Languages and Literature
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/37667

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