Oscar's Ghost: The Battle for Oscar Wilde's Legacy

Oscar's Ghost: The Battle for Oscar Wilde's Legacy

by Laura Lee


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Oscar's Ghost: The Battle for Oscar Wilde's Legacy by Laura Lee

‘In all his life [Oscar] has never written me a letter that was unkind or at least unloving and to see anything terrible in his handwriting written directly to me would almost kill me.’ This was written by Lord Alfred Douglas in 1897, before the contents of Oscar Wilde’s long letter written in prison and addressed to Douglas, De Profundis, were revealed; in which Wilde indicted Lord Alfred’s vanity and blamed him for his downfall—‘appetite without distinction, desire without limit, and formless greed’. Years after Oscar Wilde’s death, two of his closest friends, Lord Alfred Douglas and his literary executor Robert Ross—both former lovers—engaged in a bitter battle over Wilde’s legacy and who was to blame for his downfall and early death. The centrepiece of the conflict was Ross’s handling of Wilde’s prison manuscript, De Profundis. The furious struggle led to stalking, blackmail, witness tampering, prison, and a series of dramatic lawsuits. The feud had long-lasting repercussions, not only for the two men, but also for how we remember Oscar Wilde today. Oscar's Ghost includes previously unpublished information about one of the most mysterious figures in the Wilde scandal, Maurice Schwabe, who set in motion the chain of events that led to the playwright's imprisonment. Ross was systematic, had more friends, and as Wilde's executor had access to all of Wilde's papers, including personal letters from Douglas to Wilde; as the controller of Wilde’s copyright, he had sole discretion as to which of Wilde’s views of Douglas could be published. Douglas had a tenacious fighting spirit, and the sense of entitlement that came with being a lord. This is the first book to focus on the heated feud and to assess the motivations, misconceptions, and actions of all parties involved.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781445662589
Publisher: Amberley Publishing
Publication date: 11/01/2017
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 830,917
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Laura Lee is the author of fifteen books, including 'Blame It on the Rain' (HarperCollins) and the best-selling 'Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravation'. She has a degree in Theatre from Oakland University, and alongside her writing career she has worked as a morning radio DJ, an improvisational comedian, a speech writer and a public relations director for a touring Russian ballet company. She lives in Michigan.

Table of Contents

Introduction 8

1 'He Lieth for His Name Is Shame' 12

2 Café Royal Days 15

3 Robbie 18

4 Bosie 27

5 Oscar and Bosie 34

6 Devotion and Admiration 41

7 The First Battle of Salome 46

8 Feasting with Panthers 50

9 The Perils of Respectable Society 56

10 Family Values 62

11 Posing Somdomite 69

12 'Upon His Evidence the Only Hope Now Rested' 74

13 Criminal Trials 82

14 While Wilde Was Away 88

15 Pit of Shame 95

16 Continual Longing 100

17 De Profundis 106

18 The Life Interest 110

19 A Curious Way of Expressing His Disinclination 115

20 Luxuriating in Tragedy 129

21 Oscar's Last Years 134

22 Either the Wallpaper… 140

23 The Aftermath 146

24 Olive and Freddie 150

25 The Return of Maurice Schwabe 162

26 The Odd Couple 166

27 The Buckingham Gate Flat Incident 171

28 Ownership of Oscar 174

29 In Symbolic Relation 178

30 Divergence 186

31 'I No Longer "Wish to Associate with Persons like Yourself 194

32 Family Reunions and Divisions 205

33 Litigation Mania 210

34 Justify! Justify to the Hilt! 215

35 The Quality of His Admirers 227

36 'The Worst Experience of My Life' 232

37 Douglas v. Ransome and Others 242

38 By Legitimate Means or Otherwise 258

39 War 268

40 Ross v. Crosland 274

41 Old Acid Drop 279

42 Only His Grave, His Body and His Letters 291

43 Rex v.Douglas 297

44 Infighting 306

45 The Wilde Myth 309

46 Kicking Oscar's Corpse 315

47 The End 320

Epilogue 326

Notes 330

Sources and Bibliography 366

Acknowledgements 374

Index 376

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