Oscar Wilde's Scandalous Summer: The 1894 Worthing Holiday and the Aftermath

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Amberley Publishing Limited, Jul 15, 2014 - Biography & Autobiography - 256 pages
In the summer of 1894 Oscar Wilde spent eight weeks in Worthing, during which he wrote his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest. This family holiday was a microcosm of Wilde’s complicated life during the three years between his falling in love with Lord Alfred Douglas and his imprisonment in 1895. While Constance Wilde, lonely and depressed, fell in love with her husband’s publisher, Wilde was spending his time with the feckless and demanding Douglas, and with three teenage boys he took sailing, swimming and fishing. One of these boys was Alphonse Conway, with whom Wilde had a sexual relationship – and about whom he was to be questioned at length in court six months later, after he sued Douglas’s father, the Marquess of Queensberry, for libel. This book tells for the first time the full story of the Worthing summer, set in the context of the three years of Wilde’s life before his downfall. The author devotes a chapter to the composition of – and influences on – Earnest, and also reassesses the trials, offering fresh insights into Wilde’s attitude to the youths with whom he was sexually involved. There are fifty-nine illustrations, including over thirty photographs of Worthing in Wilde’s time and three contemporary maps.
 

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Contents

Noone to talkto Constance
6
My play is really very funny The Importance of Being Earnest
65
Absurd and silly perjuries The Dramatist in the Dock
78
Picture Section Notes
140

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About the author (2014)

Antony Edmonds was born in Southsea and educated at Magdalen College, Oxford. A researcher and writer with a particular interest in the history of Worthing, he works as a freelance copy-editor and has published numerous articles about the town and its literary associations, especially with Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde. He lives in a village on the Hampshire / Sussex border.

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