Lady Windermere’s Fan was Oscar Wilde’s first produced play, and it was an instant success on the London stage. Chronicling a series of misunderstandings and deceptions in the high society world of Victorian London, critics and audiences alike were charmed by Wilde’s trademark wit and intelligence.
In the play, Lady Windermere considers leaving her husband of two years when she believes he’s been unfaithful with a woman—who turns out to be her own mother. Remarkably, it will be the mother who sets her straight without ever revealing her identity.
In his letters, Wilde claimed that he did not want the play to be viewed as ‘‘a mere question of pantomime and clowning’’; he was interested in the piece as a psychological study. Although the play has been deemed outdated by recent critics, Lady Windermere’s Fan continues to entertain audiences all over the world.