5 greatest pieces of Oscar Wilde memorabilia ever auctioned

Tomorrow marks the 160th birthday of Oscar Wilde, the Irish poet, playwright and author, whose flamboyant manner and rapier-sharp wit elevated him to legendary status.

To celebrate his extraordinary life, we're taking a look at five of the most important pieces of his memorabilia to come to auction in recent years.

Paul Fraser Collectibles' founder, Paul Fraser, comments: "Wilde's popularity remains constant, which bodes well for future sales of his memorabilia."   

5. Amor Intellectualis manuscript

Amor Intellectualis
Amor Intellectualis featured in an 1890 collection of poems titled Rosa Mystica

This manuscript poem first appeared in Rosa Mystica, a collection of poems published in 1890 - around the time his career as a playwright was beginning to take off.

Although it's not signed or dated by the author, it realised $16,500 at Dirk Soulis Auction in London in 2011.

4. Signed photograph

In 1882, Wilde embarked on a tour of the US, where he held lectures on aestheticism.

Oscar Wilde pic
Wilde travelled to America in 1882

The tour had initially been planned to last four months, but ended up continuing for a year due to popular demand.

This photograph was taken by Napoleon Sarony in New York and shows Wilde dressed in a suitably eccentric outfit.

It's signed and inscribed "rien n'est vrai, que le beau" (only the beautiful is true) and made ?�10,000 ($15,927) at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury in London in 2012.

3. Letter to Mr Morgan

Wilde wrote this autograph letter to a Mr Morgan (presumably the editor of a magazine) giving his criticism of a proposed article.

Oscar Wilde magazine
Wilde also worked as a journalist

It reads in part: "It is better than many magazine articles, though if you will allow me to say so it is rather belligerent in tone�Ǫ

"The best work in literature is always done by those who do not depend on it for their daily bread - and the highest form of literature, Poetry, brings no wealth to the singer�Ǫ

"Make some sacrifice for your art and you will be repaid - but ask of art to sacrifice herself for you and a bitter disappointment may come to you."

The lot sold for ?�22,000 ($35,041) at Dreweatts in 2013.

2. Signed Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) is Wilde's only novel and one of his best-known works, having been adapted into various films over the years.

Oscar Dorian
The Picture of Dorian Gray proved controversial on publication

It proved hugely controversial on its release and was condemned by many critics as immoral, to which Wilde responded: "Leave my book, I beg you, to the immortality that it deserves."

This copy is numbered 52 of 250 and features Wilde's signature on the title page. It sold for $23,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2010.

1. Signed Importance of Being Earnest

Of all Wilde's plays, The Importance of Being Earnest has proved his most enduring.

Wilde Earnest signed
Wilde spent two years in prison between 1895 and 1897

In June this year, a rare signed copy given to his prison governor realised ?�55,000 ($93,266) in a sale at Bonhams London.

It's inscribed: "To Major Nelson: from the author. A trivial recognition of a great and noble kindness. Feb, 99".

Wilde was imprisoned for his homosexuality in 1895 and was treated particularly badly by governor Henry Isaacson. In 1896, Isaacson left and was replaced by Major James Nelson - who allowed him access to pen, paper and reading materials.

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