Becoming John Gray

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Bookcover: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeListen to a talk by Jerusha McCormack on John Gray and celebrity culture. The lecture was held at Dublin City Library & Archive on 26 April 2010 as part of Dublin: One City, One Book 2010.

John Gray was an ordinary working-class man who, as the alleged model for the “Dorian” of Oscar Wilde’s novel, became a household name. How did this happen? Did Wilde in fact invent John Gray? What forces colluded to help manufacture this new kind of fame –known to us now as “celebrity culture” – and what was its price? By retelling the story of the man who became Dorian Gray, Jerusha McCormack seeks to throw new light on the power of Wilde’s novel: to create as well as to destroy those around him – and finally to conscript the very life of the author himself.

Listen to the talk [play time: 58:38 minutes]:



Jerusha McCormack is a leading scholar of Oscar Wilde and his circle, Jerusha McCormack has written the definitive biography of John Gray, the young working-class lad rumoured to be the model for The Picture of Dorian Gray. After 30 years as a lecturer in the School of English at University College, Dublin, Dr McCormack now works as a Visiting Professor at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, where she helped set up the first (and so far, the only, comprehensive Irish Studies Centre in China). Her current work is dedicated to unravelling the many ties between China and Ireland: most recently in a piece on the impact of the thinking of Zhuangzi, a Daoist sage from the 4th century BC, on Wilde’s life and writings.

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