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I realize this is after-the-fact, but I wanted to include our thoughts on this production here, for the edification of other theaters who may want to produce this work.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was an Irish-born poet, novelist and playwright, best known for his daring psychological thriller/morality tale, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and his hilarious but insubstantial comedy play, The Importance of Being Earnest.
Wilde is widely acknowledged to have had a genius intellect. He spoke and read several languages and took double first class honors at Oxford (roughly equivalent to earning two simultaneous bachelor’s degrees, magna cum laude). He read widely and deeply, and loved the Classics, especially Greek literature. He also exhibited a lifelong fascination with the Catholic Church, read the Bible and St. Augustine while in jail, and requested a priest to administer Last Rites on his death bed.
The Golden Age of British children’s literature refers to a remarkable period during which a vast number of western literature’s best-loved books were written. Consider that between 1900 and 1930:
- Beatrix Potter wrote and illustrated her many picture books for young children, beginning with The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
- A.A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh.
- E. Nesbit wrote her wonderful children’s novels, including The Railway Children, Five Children and It, and The Enchanted Castle.
- Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote A Little Princess, The Secret Garden and Little Lord Fauntleroy.
- J.M. Barrie created Peter Pan.
And this list is not exhaustive at all. There was also an explosion of American children’s literature at around the same time: The Wizard of Oz, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, The Call of the Wild and Pollyanna, to name a few.
The wonderful thing about all these books, to my mind, is that they are not written “down” to children, over-simplified and dripping with moral lessons. Rather, they are strong original stories which are amusing, engaging and often thought-provoking, but which are most appropriate to the genre (fairly new at the time) of children’s literature.