Birthday Dinners

OUR annual Birthday Dinners have always been particularly popular and considered to be one of the highlights of the Society year. They are held on an evening near Oscar Wilde’s Birthday (16 October) at the National Liberal Club.

At the most recent Dinner, on 16 October 2015, the Chairman, Don Mead, announced the appointment of Gyles Brandreth as Hon President. We commemorated our twenty-fifth anniversary and published Don’s lavishly illustrated Anniversary Booklet which gives a short history of the Society and describes some of its most memorable events.

Memorable occasions in previous years have included include Anthony Holden speaking on The Portrait of Mr W.H. in 1996; inimitable talks by Sir Donald Sinden recalling his experience of playing Wilde in Diversions and Delights and speaking of his affectionate memories of Bosie Douglas; Sir John Mortimer on Wilde’s Socialism; and an evening with Stephen Fry playing gracefully with ideas at the Garrick Club in 2006.

Merlin Holland was our speaker at the Dinner at the National Liberal Club in October 2012. He gave us something of a preview of his forthcoming book After Oscar which will tell the story of Wilde’s ‘afterlife’ and the reverberations of the scandal for decades since his death.

At the 2014 Birthday Dinner Matthew Sturgis, whose subject was ‘On Being Wilde’s Biographer’, sprang a surprise on us. By searching the autobiographies of minor characters of the period he had found a variety of anecdotes about Wilde of varying degrees of plausibility. He asked us to vote on each of them: true or fiction? The scores were duly noted and may or may not have helped Matthew determine their value.

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