Oscar Wilde Offers Practical Advice on the Writing Life in a Newly-Discovered Letter from 1890

Oscar-Wilde_LetterAccording to The Telegraph, experts rummaging through a dusty box recently uncovered a letter penned by Oscar Wilde in 1890 (or thereabouts). Addressed to a “Mr. Morgan,” the letter runs 13 pages, and it offers what amounts to practical advice for an aspiring writer. Details on the letter’s contents remain scarce, although we will probably know more when the document gets auctioned off in two weeks time. But, so far, we know that Wilde offered Mr. Morgan two points to consider:

“Make some sacrifice for your art, and you will be repaid, but ask of art to sacrifice herself for you and a bitter disappointment may come to you,”

“The best work in literature is always done by those who do not depend on it for their daily bread and the highest form of literature, Poetry, brings no wealth to the singer.”

It’s essentially the nineteenth century version of what Charles Bukowski later said in much more simple terms: “if you’re doing it for money or fame, don’t do it.”

Related Content:

So You Want to Be a Writer?: Charles Bukowski Explains the Dos & Don’ts

William Faulkner Explains Why Writing is Best Left to Scoundrels … Preferably Living in Brothels (1956)

Writing Tips by Henry Miller, Elmore Leonard, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman & George Orwell



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  1. derek smith says . . . | March 23, 2013 / 2:26 pm

    hello, I was wondering if you knew where one could obtain a copy of this letter. I’m extremely interested. anyone?

  2. Seb Morgan says . . . | December 18, 2013 / 12:11 am

    Funny! My great granddad Robert Edmund Hulbert Morgan was a friend of Mr Wilde and in our family it has always been known that he had many letters from him that my dad’s cusin sold off without anybody knowing and to everybody’s great disgust! I wonder if one of them is this one..

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