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Description - Truly Wilde by Joan Schenkar

Born a scant three months after her uncle's notorious arrest and raised in the shadow of the greatest scandal of the turn of the twentieth century, Dorothy Irene Wilde was a born writer who never completed the the creative life promised by her famous name and gorgeous imagination. Dolly Wilde made her career in the salons - and the bedrooms - of some of London and Paris's most interesting women and men. Attracting people of taste and talent wherever she went, Dolly drenched her prodigious talents in liquids and chemicals, burnt up her opportunities in flamboyant affairs and created a sensation by apparently reliving the life of her infamous uncle. In this very modern biography, Joan Schenkar provides a fascinating look at what it means to live with the talents but not the achievements of biography's usual subjects. She aslo uncovers never-before-published evidence of the hidden life of the Wilde family and of the extraordianry salon society of Natalie Clifford Barney, Dolly Wilde's longest and most fatal attachment.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781860495571
ISBN-10: 1860495575
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 126mm x mm)
Pages: 464
Imprint: Virago Press Ltd
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 6-Sep-2001
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Truly Wilde by Joan Schenkar

UK Kirkus Review » In our celebrity-obsessed age, we have grown accustomed to the self-destructive behaviour of the lesser-known members of celebrity families. American playwright Schenkar has unearthed an early example of this syndrome in the fate of Oscar Wilde's niece, Dolly Wilde (1895 - 1941), whose life and death echoed his in ways beyond coincidence. Dolly did not achieve her potential, because her life story did not follow the pattern of 'quest and redemption' found in biographies of successful male achievers. Perhaps in response to this, Schenkar avoids a conventional narrative. She gives us Dolly's life in thematic chapters, which reflect Dolly's own obsessions (fast cars, high social circles, spiritual cults), addictions (drugs and alcohol) preoccupations (sex and the body, fashion and beauty), failings (debt, indolence, unreliability) and psychological problems (depression, breakdowns, suicide attempts). We gain glimpses of Dolly's painful childhood, her flight to Paris, her self-creation as a socialite, her lesbian relationships, her involvement in the extraordinary salon of her lover Natalie Clifford Barney, who, from the 1920s, played hostess to the cream of male Modernists and female anti-Modernists, and Dolly's eventual death aged 46 from a probable overdose. Dolly Wilde could have been a talented author but instead channelled her talent into living, witty conversation and letter-writing. This book asks what women's art is and what it means for women to fail in a man's world. It also gives us a wholly different perspective on the literary and lesbian scenes of the 1920s and 30s and a new and challenging approach to biography. It leaves us with the vital question: how many more women like Dolly have been written out of history? (Kirkus UK)


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Author Biography - Joan Schenkar

Joan Schenkar has been called America's most original female contemporary playwright'. Her works are produced, taught, read and reviewed across North America and Western Europe. She is the recipient of more than 40 grants, honours and awards. This is her first book.

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