Saturday 22 July 2017

Wilde was smitten by young reporter, letters show

Oscar Wilde: letters for auction
Oscar Wilde: letters for auction

Andy McSmith in London

OSCAR Wilde's eye had been caught by a bright young journalist years before he embarked on his disastrous affair with Lord Alfred Douglas --at least, that is the conclusion that can be drawn by reading between the lines of a recently unearthed series of the playwright's handwritten letters.

Sent by Wilde to a young man named Alsager Richard Vian, the letters are due to be auctioned later this month and are expected to fetch £10,000 (€7,686). Ostensibly they are business letters in which Wilde undertakes to write pieces for the 'Court & Society Review', which Vian edited.

In one letter, Wilde suggests he write about amusing answers given by American schoolchildren. This part of the letter seems innocent enough, but the next paragraph reads like a proposition.

Wilde invites Vian to dinner for two with wine at a London restaurant, going on to suggest the men retire after dinner to Vian's house, the address for which Wilde requests. Before he signs off, "Truly yours, Oscar Wilde," he writes: "This is all wrong, isn't it."

Another letter, which, like all the correspondence, also carries the "truly yours" sign-off, ends, simply, "Till Tonight." (© Independent News Service)

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