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“Hello, my name is Angela Kingston and I’ll be reading an excerpt from my novel in progress, Requiescat. This scene centres on the nine year old Oscar Wilde. He’s sitting in Bray railway station in 1864. I’ll attempt the accents, apologies to any Irish listeners!
Oscar gazed at the copper plaque above the carriage door, admiring the graceful curve of the bevelled letters. Dublin and Kingstown Railway. Papa said the Bray extension of ’54 would make the town the largest seaside resort in Ireland, and the money spent building the houses on Esplanade Terrace would come back a hundred fold. He was sure to be right. Papa was always right about everything.
Isola tugged her brother’s sleeve. ‘Ossy, shall we go to the sea shore afterwards? I’ve brought the soldiers for a sand castle.’ She thrust a small white fist into her pinafore pocket, and it re-emerged with tiny leaden swords, heads and feet poking through the fingers.
Looking at her clenched hand, Oscar saw a brutal giantess, cruelly uprooting and crushing helpless villagers; an image that could not be more incongruous with his sister’s sunny disposition. Her boundless energy and joie de vivre were constant sources of wonder to him. ‘Why not?’ he replied, ‘We’ll have a moat and tunnels and minarets, and I’ll build a special tower to hold you captive.’
Isola laughed and clapped her hands.
Sometimes Oscar found it difficult to believe they were related. They did have the same blue grey, dreamy eyes — poets’ eyes, Mama called them — and their bangs sat up in the same place on their foreheads. But that was where the resemblance ended. Isola’s pale, heart-shaped face was quite different to his own long countenance, and her lips could only be compared to petals, so perfectly did they curve and curl up at the corners of her mouth. Oscar’s own mouth was the source of some private distress; it was too much like his Papa’s; coarse, bestial, badly formed. Two years ago, when he was Isola’s age, he had overheard a guest at Merrion Square call his father’s mouth simian. On consulting his dictionary he was inconsolable: of or pertaining to an ape or monkey. Isola, however, at seven years old, was a thing of beauty. It soothed his eyes just to look at his sister, and he took a personal pride in her appearance.”
ABOUT ANGELA KINGSTON:
Angela Kingston is a writer and teacher. She has a PhD in English literature from the University of Adelaide and has been published in Australia and internationally on Victorian literature, most notably on Oscar Wilde and the 1890s. Her non-fiction book Oscar Wilde as a Character in Victorian Fiction was published by Palgrave Macmillan (New York) in 2007. She is currently writing a novel, Requiescat, about Oscar Wilde’s Irish childhood. It is a literary mystery which interweaves historical and contemporary narratives.
Angela was awarded a Varuna Writing Retreat Fellowship to work on her novel Requiescat in January 2012. This novel has recently been shortlisted for a Varuna Publisher Fellowship.
‘Octave’s Oscar’, The Wildean 34 (January 2009)
Oscar Wilde as a Character in Victorian Fiction, Palgrave Macmillan (New York), 2007
‘Blueprints for a Barbed-Wire Canoe by Wayne Macauley’, Insight Outcomes English Year 12 CD-ROM 2005 (Mentone: Insight Publications, 2005)
‘The Plague by Albert Camus’, Insight Outcomes English Year 12 CD-ROM 2004 (Mentone: Insight Publications, 2004)
‘The Law According to Oscar Wilde’, The Wildean 22 (January 2003)
‘Isola’s Ghost: A Long Lost Sister in Oscar Wilde’s Fairy Tales’, In-Between: Essays and Studies in Literary Criticism 10.2 (September 2001)
‘Homoeroticism and The Child in Wilde’s Fairy Tales’, The Wildean 19 (July 2001)
‘Stevenson’s Life Before the South Pacific’, ‘The Beach of Falesa’ in Context: A Collection of Essays (Adelaide: Flinders University Press, 1999)
Angela’s website can be found at: http://www.angelakingston.net
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