The premiere at the St James's Theatre was followed by a notorious speech given by Wilde. When Wilde answered the calls of "Author!" and appeared before the curtains after the third act, critics were more offended by the cigarette in his hand than his egotistic speech:
Ladies and Gentlemen. I have enjoyed this evening immensely. The actors have given us a charming rendition of a delightful play, and your appreciation has been most intelligent. I congratulate you on the great success of your performance, which persuades me that you think almost as highly of the play as I do myself.
Mrs. Erlynne was originated by Marion Terry, and Lady Windermere by Winifred Emery. The play's Broadway première on 5 February 1893 at Palmer's Theatre was also the first Broadway performance for stage and screen actress Julia Arthur, who played Lady Windermere in that production.