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Possessions linked to Oscar Wilde come up for auction.

AN IVORY-HANDLED walking cane and a brass inkwell believed to have belonged to poet and playwright Oscar Wilde will go under the hammer, it was revealed.

The cane is inscribed with the letters "O W, C33", which are his initials and his cell location - Block C, floor three, cell three, at Reading Gaol.

The Secessionist style brass inkwell is marked "c.33 - October 16, 1898'. He was born on October 16, 1854.

Both items, from the estate of a private English collector, will be auctioned by Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh on Wednesday. They are valued at pounds 500.

Wilde was sentenced to two years' imprisonment at Reading for homosexuality, then a crime under gross indecency laws.

During his prison sentence, first at Wands worth jail and then at Reading, Wilde underwent a transformation.

He was released on May 19, 1897, humiliated and bankrupt.

His last work, the Ballad of Reading Gaol, written in 1898, reveals how Wilde felt reduced to a mere "code" by his prison experience.

The poem was first published under the name Cell Number C33 and criticises the injustice of the death penalty and the hanging of a fellow inmate, Charles Wooldridge.

With no money and his health badly affected by his time in prison, Wilde settled in Paris and died three years later.

Wilde's tomb in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris, has as its epitaph a verse from The Ballad of Reading Gaol.


Oscar Wilde
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 24, 2009
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