Harry Mount

St Oscar of Oxford

It was in his room in Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1875 that Oscar Wilde said, ‘I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.’ Now, more than 130 years after he left Magdalen, with a double first in classics, the room has been decorated in his memory by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, a Magdalen Fellow.

It was in his room in Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1875 that Oscar Wilde said, ‘I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.’ Now, more than 130 years after he left Magdalen, with a double first in classics, the room has been decorated in his memory by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, a Magdalen Fellow.

It was in his room in Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1875 that Oscar Wilde said, ‘I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.’ Now, more than 130 years after he left Magdalen, with a double first in classics, the room has been decorated in his memory by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, a Magdalen Fellow.

The Oscar Wilde Room (used for parties, meetings and yoga sessions) has been given a gold ceiling, a Persian carpet, 1855-style chairs and elegant lily-shaped lights — not only are there lilies in Magdalen’s coat-of-arms, but Wilde also kept lilies in his celebrated blue china vases.

At one end is a photograph of a young Wilde, reclining, book in hand, in a dandyish velvet smoking jacket. Another wall is decorated with a ten-foot-long frieze of the covers and title pages of Wilde’s works held in Magdalen Library.

The original room was, if anything, more ornate. Along with the blue china, Wilde had a piano and Burne-Jones copies, including ‘The Beguiling of Merlin’ and ‘Christ and Magdalen’, along with six Venetian hock glasses, two green Romanian claret decanters and six ruby champagne tumblers.

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