Sloane Street, Knightsbridge
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1891 – Oscar Wilde, married playwright with two sons, sees his play Lady Windermere’s Fan performed and publishes several books, including The Portrait of Dorian Gray.
He is introduced to Alfred Douglas, a young undergraduate. “Bosie” is as extravagant as he is handsome, rebellious as he is spoiled.
A friendship develops between the two… quickly followed by a more intimate relationship.
1894 – Douglas’ brother Lord Drumlanrig dies in suspicious circumstances.
Rumors circulate that he was having an affair with the current Prime Minister, Lord Rosebery.
Alfred’s father, Marquess of Queensberry and disgusted by the lifestyle of his sons, declares a full-on war on Oscar Wilde as he doesn’t want his remaining offspring to suffer the same fate.
1895 – Queensberry leaves a card at Wilde’s club, the Albemarle in February.
In his note, he described Wilde as a “posing somdomite” (sic).
Spelling mistakes are not punished by law – however at the time “sodomy” is.
Since such an accusation can be interpreted as a criminal libel, Wilde and Douglas initiate prosecution against Queensberry, who is temporarily arrested.
On April 3, 1895 the Wilde v. Queensberry trial begins.
Queensberry, who hired a team of reckless private investigators and coerced Wilde’s former friends, is acquitted when Wilde drops the prosecution.
Wilde, having to pay Queensberry’s lawyer and investigation, is left bankrupt.
Three days later Oscar Wilde is arrested in the company of another man at the Cadogan Hotel.
Arrested for “gross indecency”, he is sentenced to 2 years of hard labour on May 22, 1895.
Stephen Fry played the Irish author in Wilde, released in 1997 and chronicling Wilde’s relationship with Douglas (Jude Law), from their first meeting to Oscar’s trials, imprisonment and release.
In 1985 Michael Gambon (“The Lost Prince”) played Wilde in “Oscar” for a three-part BBC series directed by Brian Gilbert and written by Julian Mitchell, who wrote a Van Gogh biopic in 1990.
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