One hundred and twenty five years ago this month, a flamboyant young man sailed for England after a visit to America that proved seminal towards his development into one of the literary greats.

Owen Dudley Edwards recounts how a trip to promote a comic opera turned into a year-long tour that educated America about aesthetic ideas, and about its educator, the Apostle of Aestheticism, Oscar Wilde.

On this tour, Oscar gave no less than 140 lectures over 260 days, met leading figures from government, arts and culture, and created a legacy both for an emerging nation and for himself as an emerging writer.

Mingling epigrams, history and literary lore are Oscar's grandson Merlin Holland, tour guide John Cooper, historian Mary Warner Blanchard and critic Declan Kiberd.