ALS Discussing Oscar Wilde - 1933
Autograph Letter Signed. Sussex, England: January 12, 1933, by the English author, poet and intimate companion of Irish poet and aesthete Oscar Wilde. Single sheet of personal stationery, 8″ x 10″ (20 x 25 cm) page written in manuscript on recto and verso. Accompanied by an envelope addressed in Douglas’ same cursive to “Miss Barbara Cassel, 365 Crown Street, Brooklyn, New York. U.S.A.,” with a Brighton & Hove postmark dated January 12, 1933, stamp excised. Written 33 years after Wilde’s death, this wonderful letter reads, in full:
Dear Miss Barbara Cassel,
In reply to your letter, I have really said all I have to say about Oscar Wilde in my “Autobiography” (published in America as “My Friendship with Oscar Wilde“) and I am only writing these few lines so as not to leave your letter unanswered.
In an elaborate full page postscript Lord Douglas continues:
P.S. I have just finished a new book on Shakespeare’s Sonnets which will be published early in March by Martin Secker in London. It is called “The True History of Shakespeare’s Sonnets.” I have quoted a good deal from Oscar Wilde’s story “The Story of Mr. W. H.” [actually he meant “The Portrait of Mr. W. H.”] which deals with the same subject. I expect I shall be having an American edition of the book but I have not yet had the time to arrange this.
Two months later Lord Douglas writes again to Miss Cassel in an exceptional letter offered by our colleagues at Bauman Books, saying in part:
“In reply to your letter, Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, was written about a year before I first met him, consequently he could not possibly have drawn his portrait from me. The photograph of myself in the American edition of my Autobiography, to which you refer as “a photograph of yourself when you were a boy of nineteen,” was as a matter of fact taken when I was twenty three, as you will see if you look at it again. My personal appearance did not change appreciably from the time I was 18 till I was well over 30. In that respect perhaps I resembled Dorian Gray. I hope I did not resemble him in any other way!…”
LORD ALFRED BRUCE DOUGLAS (1870-1945), was a British writer who first came to prominence in the 1890s as the young intimate companion of Oscar Wilde. After Douglas’ father, the 9th Marquess of Queensbury, publicly accused Wilde of sodomy, Wilde filed the libel lawsuit that led to his own conviction and two-year prison term for indulging in “the love that dare not speak its name.”
During the later part of 1897, Wilde and Douglas lived together near Naples, but for financial and other reasons, they separated. Wilde lived the remainder of his life primarily in Paris, and Douglas returned to England in late 1898. Douglas published several volumes of poetry, two books about his relationship with Wilde, and an autobiography.
Douglas in any form is quite rare, and with its association to his former lover, the famed Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, this fine letter is a rare collectible for fans of both Douglas and Wilde.
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