Oscar Wilde


Five articles have been combined.


Oscar Wilde’s tomb | Peter Horree/Alamy | 14428

Wilde died in Paris in 1900, aged 46. His restored tomb in Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery – the work of sculptor Jacob Epstein – will finally be unveiled this week, newly protected from his devotees who in recent years have been leaving lipstick kisses on it, damaging the tomb because the grease sinks into the stone.

“From a technical point of view, the tomb is close to being irreparably damaged. Each cleaning has rendered the stone more porous necessitating a yet more drastic cleaning,” says Merlin Holland, Wilde’s grandson.

The Irish government have paid for a radical cleaning and “de-greasing” of the tomb, and a glass barrier to surround it and prevent further damage.

Holland explained that when Wilde died he was bankrupt and his friends could offer him only a sixth-class burial at Bagneux, outside the city. His friend and literary executor, Robert Ross, managed over the next few years to annul Wilde’s bankruptcy and purchase a burial plot “in perpetuity” at Père Lachaise. Helen Carew anonymously offered £2,000 to erect a monument by the young Epstein. The commission, a flying naked angel inspired by the British Museum’s Assyrian figures, was unveiled in 1914, surviving intact until the early 1960s, when the angel was vandalised, its genitals hacked off and stolen.

The unveiling of the monument will take place on Wednesday, which is the anniversary of Wilde’s death. Holland hopes that the barrier will deter loving vandals. Designed to be unobtrusive and aesthetic, it could only discourage rather than be preventative and he says: “Some determined kissers will no doubt try to find ways of kissing the upper extremities.”

Condemned in the British press over 130 years ago as “vulgar”, “unclean”, “poisonous” and “discreditable”, now an uncensored version of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray has “come out”.

The public outcry which followed the novel’s appearance – “it is a tale spawned from the leprous literature of the French Decadents – a poisonous book, the atmosphere of which is heavy with the mephitic odours of moral and spiritual putrefaction,” wrote the Daily Chronicle – forced Wilde to revise the novel still further before it appeared in book form in 1891.

“It is quite true I have worshipped you with far more romance of feeling than a man should ever give to a friend. Somehow I have never loved a woman,” Hallward tells Dorian, in one passage which was changed. The censored version read: “From the moment I met you, your personality had the most extraordinary influence over me”.


Wilde’s Letters | BBC | 14009

Some love letters written by Oscar Wilde have been sold at auction, raising £33,900. The letters appear to reveal Wilde propositioning a magazine editor at a time when homosexuality was illegal. They were written to Alsager Vian and were sold off by his descendants.

“Come and dine at Pagani’s in Portland Street on Friday – 7.30. No dress – just ourselves and a flask of Italian wine – afterwards we will smoke cigarettes and talk over the journalistic article – could we go to your rooms, I am so far off, and clubs are difficult to talk in….. “

Wilde wrote for Vian’s magazine, Society, from 1886 to 1889.

The homes of Oscar Wilde, Benjamin Britten and Anne Lister are being relisted as part of a gay history project undertaken by Historic England, Pride of Place.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said buildings and places were witnesses to events that shaped society, but lesbian and gay stories had often been neglected. “Too often, the influence of men and women who helped build our nation has been ignored, underestimated or is simply unknown, because they belonged to minority groups. Our Pride of Place project is one step on the road to better understanding just what a diverse nation we are, and have been for many centuries. At a time when historic LGBTQ venues are under particular threat, this is an important step.”


Getty Images | 17158gh

After a 20 year project, a temple devoted to Oscar Wilde crammed with devotional-style religious art has been opened in the basement of a New York church.

Conceived by artists David McDermott and Peter McGough at The Church of the Village, the space will be open to members of the public five days a week and available for private ceremonies, including weddings.

Mr McDermott said the temple was a place “free of religious doctrine, honouring a watershed historical figure who pioneered the long struggle for equal rights for gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender peoples”.

The Oscar Wilde Temple transforms a basement chapel back to 1882-83, the time of Wilde’s lecture tour to the US. A 1.2m wood statue of Wilde which looks like marble is displayed with his prisoner number from Reading jail. On the walls are seven oil and gold leaf canvases on linen based on newspaper coverage of his trial and imprisonment.





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