The Portrait of Mr. W. H.

Introduction

"The Portrait of Mr. W. H." is a story written by Oscar Wilde, first published in Blackwood's Magazine in 1889. It was later added to the collection Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories, though it does not appear in early editions.[1] An enlarged edition planned by Wilde, almost twice as long as the Blackwoods version, with cover illustration by Charles Ricketts, did not proceed and only came to light after Wilde's death. This was published in limited edition by Mitchell Kennerley in New York in 1921, and in a first regular English edition by Methuen in 1958, edited by Vyvyan Holland. [2]

The story is about an attempt to uncover the identity of Mr W.H., the enigmatic dedicatee of Shakespeare's Sonnets. It is based on a theory, originated by Thomas Tyrwhitt, that the Sonnets were addressed to one Willie Hughes, portrayed in the story as a boy actor who specialized in playing women in Shakespeare's company. This theory depends on the assumption that the dedicatee is also the Fair Youth who is the subject of most of the poems. The only evidence for this theory is text of number of sonnets themselves. (such as Sonnet 20 that make puns on the words 'Will' and 'Hues.') [3]


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