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Five letters Bosie never sent to Oscar, and one he never sent to Robert Ross.

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1. Unfinished letter, lost behind the mantle of the fireplace at Savoy Hotel.

5 March 1893

Dear dear terrible dreadful man,

You dare me to write this. Surely you know better than to set me such a challenge, and leave me here alone with this paper and this ink? I should leave this on your pillow and take myself off to Piccadilly instead. You can read my words and think of me as a renter kneels for me and I use his mouth, thinking of yours. Hah, perhaps I can find a one who looks like I, the better for you to imagine your Narcissus? I am in your dressing gown now as I write this, engorged, the silk clinging to me where I am wet thinking of you. I ought perhaps instead finish the writing here, take myself in hand and smear the ink across the page with my ____

[reverse side of page]

I think I shall go. It is your own fault for leaving me for so long. Your boy needs his regular care and attention paid to

2. Letter, written early morning 30 March 1895, destroyed several hours later.

My beloved,

As I write this, I sit at my desk and shiver. The fire is nearly dead in the grate, and the only light is from the candle at my left hand, the smallest halo of light across the page. I have just dreamt of my father, and of you, and me. It was as if we were in Crete, Knossos built of tall cream blocks. We walked—and then ran—hand in hand, you behind me. I know now, awake, that we were supposed to be moving to the centre, to face the beast. In the dream, instead, the maze broadened and narrowed without rhyme or reason, and all the while, I could hear the breath of the beast just behind us. I dread even now the unseen image of his face on the monstrous body.

It is only in the pale moon of the candle flame that I dare write that I am frightened. Perhaps we ought to withdraw

The Leeds Mercury (Leeds, England), Thursday, April 4, 1895


The hearing of the charge of criminal libel, brought by Mr Oscar Wilde against the Marquis of Queensberry, was begun at the Central Criminal Court yesterday morning, before Mr Justice Collins.[…]

The Clerk of Arraigns read the indictment, which charged the defendant with having published a malicious and defamatory libel.
The defendant pleaded not guilty, and also that the libel was true, and that its publication was for the public benefit.

The Dundee Courier & Argus (Dundee, Scotland), Saturday, April 06, 1895


Glasgow Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), Monday, May 27, 1895

The trial of Oscar Wilde was brought to a close on Saturday. After the judge – Mr Justice Wills – had summed up, the jury retired at 3.30 pm. […] The jury […] returned with a verdict of “Guilty” upon all the counts in the indictment.

Oscar Wilde's Affairs.
Trewman's Exeter Flying Post or Plymouth and Cornish Advertiser (Exeter, England), Saturday, July 27, 1895

At the London Bankruptcy Court Thursday a receiving order was made against Oscar Fingall O’Flaherty Wills Wilde, late of 16 Fite Street and now of her Majesty’s Prison, Pentonville. The petition was presented on behalf of the Marquis of Queensberry, who claims £677 costs of the recent action for criminal libel brought against him by the debtor.

Aberdeen Weekly Journal (Aberdeen, Scotland), Friday, June 19, 1896
(Dalziel’s telegram)

Paris, Thursday – Mr RH Sherard, writing from the Authors’ Club in London to the “Journal” says he visited Oscar Wilde in Reading Prison last week, and found him to be a complete wreck of his former self, both mentally and physically. “I feel,” remarked the prisoner to him, “as if I were in my tomb, and my brain is getting weaker every day. Mr Sherard adds he is strongly convinced that Wilde will either die before his sentence expires or become insane.

3. Letter, undated, October 1896

Oscar Wilde
Reading Gaol

I cannot believe you will not write to me, all for the sake of an article! It is surely not going to cause any further harm, to print in a foreign tongue that which has already been read in its original English in a court of law. You must write to me directly, and explain yourself. None of this to-and-fro with Adey will do, I must hear it from you. Surely the fee from the newspaper will do you good, and of course I would not hesitate to send it on as soon as you are released. Besides, the opportunity to sign my name to the truth of the matter – or rather, the truth as it ought to be understood, in a country less barbarous than this one – is surely one you comprehend?

Write to me at once, and explain. If it pleases you to know it, I know everything is my fault, and the ruination of your life rests on my shoulders. What more harm can I possibly do? You are being entirely too selfish.


The North-Eastern Daily Gazette (Middlesbrough, England), Wednesday, May 19, 1897.

Oscar Wilde was removed last night from Reading Gaol to Pentonville, and was this morning formally released from custody, having completed his full term of imprisonment to which he was sentenced two years ago at Old Bailey.

Reynolds's Newspaper (London, England), Sunday, May 30, 1897

Since Tuesday last Oscar Wilde has been in Paris. After his release he left London for Dieppe, where he spent nearly a week, taking long bicycle rides each day, accompanied by two or three friends who have come with him to Paris.

4. Letter, lost through a train window between Rouen and Paris, 29 August 1897

My dearest Oscar,

My time with you just now was such a glorious reunion. I can still feel the effect of your hands on my skin, your lips against mine. I cannot wait to see you again, even now my thoughts are only of you and being near you. I can hardly bear it, this distance between us. Only knowing it is temporary makes it something which I can endure.

You are right to say that things must begin fresh, that we must build something new. Things will be different when we are in Naples. There is so much art, so much architecture – your body and mine. That will remain the same, at least.

I long to feel your lips against my skin – all of my skin, all of it, everywhere.

I remain your darling boy, now and always,


The Courier and Argus (Dundee, Scotland), Saturday, December 01, 1900

A Paris correspondent of the Dublin Evening Mail states that Mr Oscar Wilde, the well-known playwright, died in the Latin Quarter yesterday from meningitis.

Northern Echo (Darlington, England), Tuesday, December 4, 1900

Paris, Sunday Night.

The once brilliant and adulated poet-playwright, though in bed, looked well in the face. The first part of the conversation on his side was a mixture of defiance and bitterness. I did my best to console him and he suddenly burst into tears. I felt deeply moved as he told the sad tale of blight and misery through which he had passed.


Two kind friends – Mr Robert Ross and Mr Turner – nursed him through his illness, whilst Father Cuthbert Dunn, one of the British Catholic chaplains from the Avenue Hoche, administered the customary rites of the Church.

Trial Of Lord Alfred Douglas.
The Times (London, England), Friday, Dec 07, 1923

At the Central Criminal Court yesterday Sir Richard Muir, for the prosecution, applied to Mr Justice Avery that the trial of Lord Alfred Douglas, who is charged with publishing a malicious and defamatory libel of and concerning Mr Winston Churchill should be fixed for Monday.

Douglas Trial Ended.
The Times (London, England), Friday, Dec 14, 1923


The Conviction of Lord Alfred Douglas.
The Times (London, England), Friday, Dec 14, 1923

There will be general agreement with the verdict of the jury who tried the case against Lord Alfred Douglas at the Central Criminal Court, and no one could sensibly maintain that the sentence of six months’ imprisonment in the second division for a criminal libel was excessive. To those who have watched the career of the man it will be regarded as a moderate sentence. For years, in newspapers and in circulars and pamphlets, he has conducted a campaign of irresponsible calumny, regardless of facts and intrepid in defamatory invective. At last he has been laid by the heels in quite a gentle way, but in a way which we hope – not with great confidence – will teach him a lesson.

5. One page of a letter written while in prison, retained on prisoner’s release. Undated, 1924.

You said to me, in anger, once – long long ago in Naples – that you hoped I would understand someday, just how it was for you in Reading. I remember it well, because you surprised me. “Not for you to go to prison,” you said, “but for you to feel the profound cleansing force of being stripped back to bare essentials of singular existence.” I heard it as yet another one of your exegeses on my Nnarcissism (how could it be both a virtue and a sin, with the changing of the initial capital?) but there is something that rings so true now, now that I am here and these planks my mattress and this cold stone my walls and sky and grass. I am writing, in here, as you wrote nearly thirty years ago. The secret of life is suffering. I still cannot bear it, to see it in my own hand on the page. I cannot bear it, I expect, as it becomes ever more true.

I still have all those letters you sent me, those letters with all your too kind words. Not here, of course, where I could read them and think of you, and understand perhaps, for the first time, just what it was like for you. Each man kills the thing he loves, you said. How true that feels.

Damn you for being so right, about everything, except me.

Death Of Mr. Robert Ross.
The Times (London, England), Monday, Oct 7, 1918

Mr. Robert Baldwin Ross, the art critic and the executor and administrator for the literary and dramatic estate of the late Oscar Wilde, died on Saturday, suddenly, of heart failure, at 40, Half Moon-street. He was in his 50th year.

6. Undated letter, written over several days, December 1944.

Faithul, departed, Robbie,

Heavens knows why I am bothering with this letter – there isn’t even a grave to which I can address it. Yet as I sit here in the waning months of this war and think of you, who escaped before seeing what came after the last, I am again exhausted by the rage you still inspire.

You remember those months we had in Capri – all the fun and cavorting, the beautiful boys and the thin winter sun… I found a picture yesterday, our names and dated and all so it must be so. How young we look, how carefree. I wish I had photographs of Maurice, now that I think of it. But you never had as much chance to know him as we did, Oscar and I. I wonder if any photos exist of him at all.

I suppose I began all this to tell you that Olive is dead. I am sure you would be glad to know it had been some time since we had seen one another, and yet longer still since we shared a roof, but even you would be able to summon a mourner’s tear for the end of all that might have been good. Our son—

It has not been so easy to die as I once thought, though my heart gives out now. The doctors say it will quit altogether before long, worn out and broken as it is. It is now forty-four years since Oscar left us – left me – and I have not even got the memory of a proper farewell to console me on this anniversary. You denied me this, saving your telegraph for ‘too late’ and laid on the most niggardly of funerals, not anything that he would have deserved.

I don’t know why I am writing to you now. I am sure this will make little sense upon rereading. It is perhaps best used as kindling for the fire – might join you in ash, as it were.

It’s nearly Christmas so I shan’t go on too long with so much which is antithetical to the season.

I hope Heaven is kind to you all. Take care of them both for me, would you? I won’t be long.

The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Feb 16, 1944


Lady Alfred Douglas, wife of Lord Alfred Douglas, died at Viceroy Lodge, Hove, on February 12. She was Olive Eleanor, eldest daughter and heiress of the late Colonel FH Custance, CB, late Grenadier Guards, of Weston Hall, Norfolk. Her marriage took place in 1902, and she had one son. Among her publications were “Opals” (1897), “Rainbows” (1902) and “The Inn of Dreams” (1910).

The Times (London, England), Saturday, Mar 24, 1945


The funeral of Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas took place yesterday at the Franciscan Friary, Crawley, Sussex. Father F. Herbert celebrated the requiem Mass.