Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Rare Oscar Wilde Book To Be Sold At Auction For £60,000


Late 1895 can’t have been easy for Oscar Wilde, unjustly imprisoned due to ‘gross indecency’ (homosexual activity) in the same year his play The Importance Of Being Earnest debuted on the London stage.

Two years were spent at Reading gaol, where he would suffer terribly from mental abuse by governor Henry Isaacson, a bullying sort Wilde claimed had "the soul of a rat", banning the writer from any sort of literature.

Eventually, Isaacson was replaced by Major James Nelson, who immediately gave Wilde access to books, reportedly telling the scribe, "The Home Office has allowed you some books. Perhaps you would like to read this one. I have just been reading it myself." Wilde is said to have broken down when informed so.

To pay back the kindness, Upon release, Wilde inscribed a special edition (13 of 100) of The Importance Of Being Earnest to his former jailor, writing, “To Major Nelson: from the author. A trivial recognition of a great and noble kindness. Feb, 99.”

Well now the copy of the play is to go under the hammer, meaning, if you’ve a spare £60,000 upwards, this piece of history could well be your very own when Bonhams, London auctions off the work on 18 June.

While many signed rare books can fetch great sums, few come close to matching the inscription found in this one. It’s about as earnest as it gets.

[Via LA Times]



Literary ages vs movie ages


15 Pieces Of Style Advice From Oscar Wilde


Books brought to life with wire


Books That Predicted The Future


Dark novels imagined as children's books


Literary drinking spots you can actually visit



Donald Ray Pollock: Inside the mind of a nightmare specialist

Modern master of disturbing prose on the moments from page & screen that made him who he is

05 Oct 2016

Harry Potter fans can now discover their Patronus

Don't lie, you want to give it a go, don't you?

by David Cornish
23 Sep 2016

20 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Stephen King

21 Sep 2016

Your chance to see excellent US author Donald Ray Pollock

And also have a beer! Win win

08 Sep 2016

Return to a nineties classic: Chuck Palahniuk on Fight Club

20 years since Fight Club, the author tells us how he’d rewrite his seminal novel for 2016

17 Aug 2016

Details announced for new Partridge book

'Nomad' will arrive this autumn

21 Jul 2016

13 famous books that had very different working titles

by Chris Sayer
10 Jun 2016

George RR Martin has just confirmed this brilliant GOT fan theory

A badass character gets a badass back story

by David Cornish
01 Jun 2016

Twitter account Photoshops 90s’ books to give them titles they deserve

12 Apr 2016

You're going to want these stunning new Shakespeare books

The books your bookshelf deserves

by David Cornish
12 Apr 2016