Idler Walks: Oscar Wilde and the Chelsea Poets with Niall McDevitt

Niall McDevitt|Saturday 9th March

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Mural depicting Oscar Wilde, Thomas Carlyle, George Eliot and other Chelsea writers at the Old Chelsea Town Hall

“‘To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual.” – Oscar Wilde

Irish poet Niall McDevitt tells the story of fellow Dubliner Oscar Wilde at the key sites in Chelsea.

The focus is on 1895, the year of The Importance of Being Earnest and Wilde’s instantaneous martyrdom, which – according to Cyril Connolly – “set the aesthetic movement back by 20 years”. But Chelsea has also been home to several of the nineteenth and twentieth century’s most outstanding poets. McDevitt will conjure up fleeting vistas of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Leigh Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, as well as the later TS Eliot, Dylan Thomas and John Betjemen.

There are bonus cameos by novelists Mary Shelley, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Graham Greene,
and a tragic turn by the Irish nationalist poet Speranza, better known as Lady Wilde, Oscar’s mother.

Wilde’s martyrdom will be seen sandwiched in time between that of Julian Assange and Sir Thomas More.

Meet at Knightsbridge tube at the Brompton Street exit at 11am. The walk will last approximately two hours and finish on the Kings Road.

About the Speaker

Irish poet Niall McDevitt lives in West London. He is the author of three acclaimed collections of poetry, b/w (Waterloo Press, 2010), Porterloo ( International Times, 2013) and Firing Slits: Jerusalem Colportage (New River Press, 2016).
His work appears in Wretched Strangers, an anthology of non-UK born writers; Urban Shamanism, poets from north, west, south and east London; Diamond Cutters, poets in Britain, America and Oceania; and the STRIKE! Anthology.
He is a ‘walking artist’ who specialises in the historic poets of London, particularly Shakespeare/Blake/Rimbaud/Yeats. He blogs at
His walks have been written about in The Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, the Idler, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
In 2016, he was invited to read his work in Iraq at the Babylon Festival.
His book BABYLON (a neoliberal theodicy) And Other Poems is forthcoming from New River Press.



Saturday 9 March


Meet at 11am


Meet at Knightsbridge tube, Brompton Street exit


2-2.5 hours




Idler tote bag with a copy of the magazine, badge and bookmark

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