First Edition of Oscar Wilde's banned play, Salome, auctions in the UK

The renowned Irish poet and writer Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) will star at Dominic Winter's Printed Books & Maps auction later today (July 21). The sale is being held in Gloucestershire, UK.

The work for sale is Salomé, an 1893 first edition of the play first conceived by Wilde in 1891 - and all the more fascinating for being originally written in French, in which Wilde became fluent during childhood.

Published a year after the Lord Chamberlain's licensor banned the play in London for depicting biblical characters on the stage, this version is exceptional for bearing Wilde's signed presentation inscription, with the author's trademark paraph to the last letter of his name.

Described by Dominic Winter as "an outstanding an previously unknown association copy," the book was gifted to its current owner by his mother's landlady in Paris, some 40 years ago.

The London & Paris 1893 First Edition of Wilde's Salome

The play eventually found its debut performance at Paris's Theatre de l'Oeuvre, on February 11, 1896. The English version appeared two years previously, and a year after this First Edition, in 1894.

Sold it its original purple wrappers printed in silver, and somewhat faded with marginal browning (including on the spine) this seminal and historic work will go under the hammer with an estimate of $20,000-30,000.

Elsewhere on the market, collectors have an opportunity to acquire another example of Oscar Wilde's famous signature - on a rare photograph autographed by Wilde during his famous American tour of 1882.

It was during this trip that he famously stated, while at New York City's custom house, "I have nothing to declare but my genius..."


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