Just like I’m sharing my collection of writer quotes with you, I’d also like to share my collection of writer anecdotes. Anecdotes are short interesting or amusing biographical accounts of incidents or situations. And this is precisely why I like anecdotes about writers – since they are taken from a writer’s real life, they reveal a lot about his personality and nature.
I’ll start off with Oscar Wilde (1856-1900), the poet, novelist, playwright, and essayist – and above all, a master of unsurpassed wit and wisdom. Even George Bernard Shaw, another writer who also possessed great wit, had this to say about Oscar Wilde – “incomparably the greatest talker of his time — perhaps of all time”.
- A publisher once asked Wilde to make some changes to one of his plays. Wilde refused. He said, “Who am I to tamper with a masterpiece?”
- Frank Harris, editor of the Saturday Review, once hosted a gala dinner at the Cafe Royal. Much to the discomfort of the guests, Harris himself dominated the conversation. At last, Oscar Wilde, prompted by Harris’s boast about the many fine homes to which he had been invited, interrupted the host. “Dear Frank, we believe you. You have dined in every house in London,” he remarked. “Once.”
- Once while on a lecture tour to the U.S., Oscar Wilde was asked by a customs officer in New York whether he had anything to declare. “No, I have nothing to declare,” Wilde replied, “except my genius.”
- Oscar Wilde was once asked what he was ‘working at’. Wilde replied, “At intervals.”
- Oscar Wilde was once buttonholed by an American admirer. “Wonderful man, Columbus!” the man exclaimed. “Why?” asked Wilde. “He discovered America,” the man explained. “Oh, no,” Wilde replied, shaking his head, “it had often been discovered before, but it had always been hushed up.”
More anecdotes to follow in future posts.