Auction News

Oscar Wilde Sale Results From Sothebys

Wilde is one of the greatest icons of modern literature. One
of the wittiest, most quoted authors in the English language,
Wilde both delighted and outraged his contemporaries. He was
the centre of the late Victorian aesthetic movement, whose circle
included most of the major writers and artists of the day, but
also a tragic figure whose notorious trial and imprisonment
made him a social pariah.

Pictured right – A
photograph of Oscar Wilde, inscribed to Robert Ross, 1890s

The sale – the most important Oscar Wilde collection remaining
in private hands – will offered over 100 lots of important
first editions, inscribed presentation copies, letters, manuscripts,
original photographs and extraordinary ephemera. The collection
abounds in highlights and even includes important materials
relating to Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred Douglas (‘Bosie’)
– notably the unique set of corrected page proofs of his
controversial and unpublished book about Wilde.

If a single item may serve to illustrate the quality of the
collection, let it be the Tite Street catalogue for the sale
of Wilde’s household property. Few items could more vividly
illustrate the pathos and poignancy of Wilde’s situation
at that time. Having lost his lawsuit against the Marquess of
Queensberry, and with his hugely successful plays An Ideal Husband
and The Importance of Being Earnest taken off the stage in the
wake of the scandal, Wilde was forced to sell virtually all
his precious books, pictures, furniture, china and other domestic
goods to cover the costs of litigation. It is only when one
confronts such a rare and detailed contemporary record as this
that the full import and drama of these events comes into focus.

Sale Highlights

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