Britain’s best-loved bookish eccentric, techy Twitterer and fantasy uncle (imagine the Christmas party games!) Stephen Fry has long worn his Oscar Wilde-loving heart on his sleeve. Brian Gilbert’s 1997 film Wilde saw Fry cast as the exuberant author, and recently he noted the formative influence of Wilde’s work in his navigating that pot-hole riddled road between awkward adolescence and a more assured adulthood relatively unbruised.
In 1973, a 16-year-old Stephen Fry penned a letter to his middle-aged self (published in 1997’s autobiography Moab is my Washpot) and in response to his teenage self Fry recently wrote, via The Guardian:
“I know what you are doing now, young Stephen. It’s early 1973. You are in the library, cross-referencing bibliographies so that you can find more and more examples of queer people in history, art and literature against whom you can hope to validate yourself. Leonardo, Tchaikovsky, Wilde, Barons Corvo and von Gloeden… So many great spirits really do confirm that hope! It emboldens you to know that such a number of brilliant (if often doomed) souls shared the same impulse and desires as you.”
And now Fry’s calling the rest of us over to the Wilde side with him, having just selected his favourite Oscar Wilde stories for a new collection acquired by Harper Collins. The collection’s as yet untitled, but The Bind gathers that it’s due to be published in October, in hardback (yum) and in addition to 33 mouth-watering illustrations by Nicole Stewart. Fry will also be penning a general introduction to the collection, and foreword to each of the stories.
Oh, and as if we needed any more reason to launch efforts to trace our lineage to the Fry family tree, today saw the kick-off of the second series of Fry’s English Delight on Radio 4. The programme title? ‘So Wrong it’s Right’. In reference to my level of excitability over your new show, Stephen, how very correct you are.