Wiltshire

Oscar Wilde cigarette case to be auctioned

Cigarette case Image copyright Henry Aldridge and Son
Image caption The cigarette case was given to Oscar Wilde after his love affair with Lord Alfred Douglas 'Bosie'.

A silver cigarette case that was given to Oscar Wilde is to be auctioned.

Wilde was given the case by Lord Alfred Douglas during their well-documented love affair in the the late 1800s.

The case is hallmarked Birmingham 1897 and engraved with a verse from John Donne's famous poem The Canonization.

Wiltshire auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said it was "a unique reminder of the illicit affair Oscar Wilde had that led to the social and financial ruin of him."

Although married with two sons, Oscar Wilde was homosexual which at the time was illegal in the UK.

He began an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas in 1891.

Wilde then sued Douglas' father for libel, after he had accused Wilde of being homosexual.

He lost the case and after details of Wilde's private life were revealed during the trial, he was sentenced to two years of hard labour.

"The cigarette case was an expression of how deep their love was, with 'Bosie's' [Lord Douglas] carefully selected verse making it a truly iconic item," Mr Aldridge said.

The item has been given a pre-sale estimate of £25,000 to £35,000.

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