'The Duchess of Padua' Opens in New York
Wilde finishes his second play, the five-act poetic drama The Duchess of Padua, and sends it off to an American manager who had contracted for it.
But it is rejected both by the manager and the actress for whom he had written it, and it will not be produced until January 1891—and then under the title Guido Ferranti with no acknowledgment of Wilde’s authorship until he intervenes. The run of 26 gives Wilde some satisfaction, but he later pronounces the play unfit for publication. Set in the early sixteenth century and featuring historical figures including the Duke of Padua and Malatesta, the drama is an imitation Jacobean tragedy whose only “modern” ingredients are a few epigrams (“The most eccentric thing a man can do / Is to have brains”).
In 1882, Wilde had been commissioned by the American actress Mary Anderson to write a five-act tragedy. the play, 'The Duchess of Padua', completed in March 1883, was subsequently refused. In that year, Wilde published the play privately at his own expense. When the distinguished American actor-manager Lawrence Barrett (1859-91), who had been interested in Wilde's play since 1882, produced it on 26 January 1891 in New York, he changed the title to 'Guido Ferranti', probably to give greater significance to his own role.