Derby

Oscar Wilde letters are sold at auction

  • 24 September 2010
  • From the section Derby
Letter written by Oscar Wilde
Image caption Oscar Wilde continually invited the magazine editor to visit him

A small but revealing group of letters written by the playwright Oscar Wilde have been sold at auction in Derby.

The five letters, sold as separate lots, reached a total of £33,900 and were all bought by one bidder.

Auctioneers, Bamfords of Derby, said the letters appear to reveal Wilde propositioning a magazine editor at a time when homosexuality was illegal.

They were written to Alsager Vian, during the Society Magazine era, and were sold off by his descendants.

It is thought it was family tradition that the letters were kept under lock and key in a bureau until Vian's death in 1924.

In the letters, Wilde continually invited the magazine editor to visit him. In the final letter he went to great lengths to encourage a meeting.

It read: "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..... "

It is not known if a meeting took place between the two.

Alan Judd from Bamfords said: "The letters are very important as they help to fill in pieces of Oscar Wilde's tempestuous jigsaw."

Oscar Wilde wrote for and edited Society Magazines from 1886-89.

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