The Very Brilliant Miss Mary Story

In the December 1887 issue of The Woman’s World, the magazine he edited for two years, Oscar Wilde took the opportunity to highlight the success of a Miss Story, the daughter of a Northern Irish clergyman, who had been awarded a literature scholarship by the Royal University in Ireland. She was to receive £100 a year for five years.

In his ‘Literary and Other Notes’, Wilde remarked:

It is pleasant to be able to chronicle an item of Irish news that has nothing to do with the violence of party politics or party feeling, and that shows how worthy women are of that higher culture and education which has been so tardily, and in some instances, so grudgingly granted to them.

Image result for December 1887 issue of The Woman’s World

The Sixth Annual Report of the Royal University of Ireland confirms:

In modern literature, experimental science, and medicine, the highest honours have been carried off by women. In the first of these subjects a young lady – Miss Mary Story – has won the studentship – the highest honour that can be obtained in this University.

The Freeman’s Journal reported on the conferring of degrees and mentioned Miss Story’s achievement:

The entrance of the lady graduates was the signal for quite a tremendous demonstration of applause, and Miss Mary Storey [sic], who had won the studentship in Modern Literature – a prize of £500 – proving her exceptional capacity, was greeted with the warmest expressions of congratulations.

I’d love to know what became of this very clever young woman. Anyone?


Oscar Wilde, ‘Literary and Other Notes’, The Woman’s World, Volume I, December 1887, p.85

Sixth Annual Report of the Royal University of Ireland, 1888

Wilde’s Women: How Oscar Wilde was Shaped by the Women he Knew by Eleanor Fitzsimons



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