The Mysteries of Oscar Wilde

Photograph taken in 1882 by Napoleon Sarony

A century after he died, Oscar Wilde has reached unprecendented heights of popularity. Recently commemorated with a window in Westminster Abbey, his plays long established as a staple of modern stage and film, Wilde has become a secular icon. His life is endlessly replayed in books, films and on television while his wit is re-cycled in anthologies and on bookmarks – vindication indeed for a man who once said ‘There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.’

Yet though Wilde lived his life in a blaze of self-generated publicity, the causes of his catastrophic fall are surrounded by mystery. The events of his trials, imprisonment and early death have been exhaustively recreated in film and plays.  He himself chronicled his disastrous relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas – ‘Bosie’ – in the prison letter later published as De Profundis. Since his death writers of the calibre of H.

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