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Originally posted on WildeTimes.net.

A Private View at the Royal Academy, with captions pointing out Anthony Trollope, Prime Minister William Gladstone, Robert Browning, the Countess of Lonsdale, Lord Leighton, Lillie Langtry, Oscar Wilde, Ellen Terry and Henry Irving, and John Everett Millais

The opening of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London on the first Monday in May marked the beginning of ‘the Season’ for the élite of Victorian Society. This set in play three hectic months of balls, concerts, dinner parties, operas, horse riding in Hyde Park, the Derby and races at Royal Ascot, the Henley Royal Regatta and cricket at Lord’s. Young women pinned their hopes on getting engaged before the debutante balls, parties and concerts came to an end on 12 August, when fashionable people abandoned London and headed north to shoot grouse, partridges and pheasants as a prelude to fox-hunting.Whatever Oscar Wilde may have thought of fox-hunting (“the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable” as he called it in A Woman of No Importance), his social success is reflected in his appearance at the Royal Academy’s Private Viewing day in May 1881, an invitation-only event. At only 26 years of age, Wilde was a celebrity moving in the best circles, despite being an Irishman in xenophobic London.Wilde’s achievement is remarkable because in 1881 he had little writing to his name (his first and largely forgotten play, Vera, and a volume of poetry), yet he had made himself conspicuous enough as…

via The Apostle of the beautiful and the Season | WildeTimes.net.

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