The Profile: Heather White - Go Wilde for Oscar at the Weekend Festival; Project Oscar Wilde Is the Brainchild of Heather White Who, as ANNE PALMER Finds out, Has; a Passion for the 'Quirky' Side of the Man
Byline: Anne Palmer
WHEN Heather White said turn left and head for the mountains, I thought she was joking. But I managed to locate her home, deep in the countryside, perched on a hilltop on the scenic border linking Fermanagh with Donegal.
Tucked away at the entrance to her beautifully restored traditional farm cottage, Heather has created the nerve centre for the increasingly successful Project Oscar Wilde.
But the warm Wildean welcome is also about to embrace visitors from the mainland, Ireland and from as far away as Canada, as the first Fermanagh- based Oscar Wilde Weekend festival gets under way.
Heather is the chairperson of Project Oscar Wilde and has been the stalwart behind the new Enniskillen festival.
Dublin-born Oscar Wilde attended Portora Royal School from 1864 to 1871 and it is Wilde's schooldays that have been the project's initial focus of attention.
Heather's creative flair and enthusiasm, coupled with her quest for a quality event, are most striking. Her dedication to the project is evident in the three new books Heather has just written about the great Irish dramatist.
Forgotten Schooldays, along with Wildefire and A Wilde Family, together open a door to the life and times of the much talked about flamboyant character.
Methodically researched, these books are brimming with intriguing detail about the early life of Oscar Wilde, revealing new and previously unpublished facts.
According to the Belfast-born writer, the number of books which have been written about Oscar Wilde, since his death in 1900 in Paris, is incredible but she points out that there has been a tendency to focus on his later life, his meteoric rise, trial and terrible fall.
But it is the quirky side of Oscar Wilde's life that has caught the Ulsterwoman's attention.
'I'm interested in his early Irish childhood. His parents were extraordinarily mysterious and intriguing people. There are so many unanswered questions that, when you start to read about them, you just want to know more,' said Heather.
'Most of what has been written about him is from his Oxford years onwards,' she added.
In her research for forgotten schooldays, Heather has discovered that Oscar' s brother, Willie, who attended Portora at the same time as his famous brother, won a prize for the high jump.
'I also learned that a fellow-pupil at the school was called Arbuthnot, which is a name that comes up in A Woman of No Importance,'' said Heather, providing a glimpse of what is still to come. …