“Given sufficient notice, one can always be spontaneous.”
If this saying reminds you of Oscar Wilde, that is entirely appropriate. With this aphorism, Robert Eddison has won the fourth Wilde Wit Competition run by the Oscar Wilde Society, in partnership with The Oldie and The Chap.
Eddison’s quote topped the list of more than 300 entries sent to the Society, in which contestants vied with Wildean aphorisms both amusing and profound. The shortlist was chosen by the Oscar Wilde Society Committee and guest judge Darcy Alexander Corstorphine, who won the first three years so was invited NOT to enter this year, so as to give others a better chance. From the shortlist, the Society’s membership voted to determine the winners.
First prize for Robert is a signed copy of Constance Wilde’s Autograph Book, the marvellous new hardcover publication from the Oscar Wilde Society, edited by Devon Cox.
Second place went to AJ West for this quip: “If it weren’t for nihilism, I’d have nothing to live for.” AJ wins Oscar Wilde: The Complete Interviews, a two-volume set edited by Robert Marland.
Third place went to Simon Scarratt, who entered with: “A man who always tells the truth can never be trusted.” Simon wins a year’s membership to the Oscar Wilde Society.
Congratulations to our witty winners, who — like James Whistler — spoke so cleverly that Oscar himself might have wished he had said it.
In addition, we’d like to share the following gems that made the shortlist:
“Critics look; artists see.” — Thomas Greig
“Generosity in an enemy is harder to bear than meanness in a friend.” — Anthony Bennett
“I die as I have lived: romantically.” — Olivier Gravel
“If you haven’t got anything nice to say, make it count.” — Phil Barry
“It is advisable on social media to practice vain modesty, humble arrogance, cruel kindness, and generally to behave in a manner entirely unsociable.” — AJ West
“It’s very easy to recognise when you’re being told the truth: it always sounds ridiculous.” — Catherine Ariana Moriarty
“Life is a play, but the script is not agreed.” — Catherine Ariana Moriarty
“Narcissists have only themselves to praise.” — Robert Eddison
“Our times are beset by two afflictions. The first is that we have accumulated so much useless information. The second is that we have found so many uses for it.” — Camille Ralphs
“She was a very generous woman. She constantly gave people a piece of her mind, something with which she was not generously endowed.” — Kennedy Mawhinney
“The average child spends his days trying to learn the facts of life. The average adult spends his days trying to forget them.” — Camille Ralphs
“The incompetent too often suffer from delusions of adequacy.” — Robert Eddison
“The prettier the thought, the more deserving of suspicion.” — Fraser Logan
“To do the wrong thing is innocent enough, but to say it is unforgivable.” — Camille Ralphs
“To lose one’s looks is to find one’s beauty.” — Frank Annable
“We are all born with different masks – the art is to make them look like ourselves.” — Laura Amalia Dolores
“When one tells the same story in different words, one tells a different story.” — M.W.B. Asscher
Want More Wilde?
If Wildean wit tickles your fancy, consider joining the Oscar Wilde Society, where members explore the many sides of Wilde through events, performances and regular publications.
Society events include:
- Lectures, readings and discussions
- Visits to places associated with Wilde
- An annual lunch in Oxford
- An annual Birthday Dinner in London
Members also receive three publications, including our peer-reviewed journal The Wildean, which contains original research and articles by Wilde scholars and experts.
Learn more on our membership page.