Day 18 of Colourisation Project – May 25th
On this day (May 25) in 1895, at the height of his fame and success, Irish playwright, poet, and novelist Oscar Wilde was convicted of “committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons” and sentenced to two years in Reading Gaol.
Oscar was born in the wrong era. His downfall was an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, the son of the Marquess of Queensbury. A court case brought against the Marquess for libel against Oscar backfired and resulted in Oscar being sentenced to two years hard labour.
Wilde was one of the best known personalities of his day and had achieved great success with the novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the plays Salomé, The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband, and Lady Windermere’s Fan. In 1897, in prison, he wrote De Profundis, which was later published in 1905 after his death.
Upon his release from gaol, Oscar left immediately for France, where he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol. He never to return to Ireland or Britain. He ended his days living in a Paris hotel, destitute and with few friends. Just a month before his death he is quoted as saying, “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One of us has got to go.”
Oscar died in 1900 of cerebral meningitis in Paris at the age of forty-six.
Photograph taken in 1882 by Napoleon Sarony – Colourised By Loredana Crupi
When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realising what I am that I have found comfort of any kind. De Profundis ~ Oscar Wilde