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Irish Peacock and Scarlet Marquess: The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde Hardcover – 7 Apr 2003

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (7 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007154186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007154180
  • Package Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.4 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 138,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


'The most sensational trial of the 19th century. Merlin Holland has produced a gripping and fascinating volume that entirely supersedes previous accounts of the Queensberry trial. Along with a number of unfamiliar biographical details and intriguing glimpses into his private life, it gives us, for the first time, a real sense of how Wilde actually spoke in conversation. As a work of dramatic legal literature it ranks with Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. While Wilde failed to make life conform to the laws of his own writing, he did at least succeed in turning one of the most important episodes in his biography into a kind of art.' Daily Telegraph

'We can now watch the drama unfold, as the prosecution of Queensberry is aborted and Wilde becomes the figure under pressure, his clever replies and elegant evasions proving no match for the terrier-like persistence of Edward Henry Carson QC.' Independent

'Wilde seems to have run into the arms of his own destruction. He had tasted fame, and success, and wealth. He wanted the complete life, which would encompass shame and infamy as well as glory and applause. They may all be discovered in this book.' The Times

From the Back Cover

One of the most famous love affairs in literary history is that of Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas. When it became public, it cost Wilde everything. Merlin Holland has discovered the original courtroom transcript of the trial which led to his grandfather's tragedy. Here for the first time is the true record, without the distortions of previous accounts.

On 18 February 1895 Bosie's father, the Marquess of Queensberry, delivered a note to the Albemarle Club addressed to 'Oscar Wilde posing as somdomite [sic]'. With Bosie's encouragement, Wilde decided to sue the Marquess for libel. As soon as the trial opened London's literary darling was at the centre of the greatest scandal of his time.

Wilde's fall from grace was swift: his case lost, prosecution by the Crown soon followed, ending in the imprisonment that destroyed his health – even as his art, as Wilde put it, improved through 'suffering'

In this remarkable book we relive the moments as Wilde's confidence ebbed under the relentless questioning, see him lose track of the witty lines for which he was famous. Ultimately, it was his wit that betrayed him.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
While reading this book you follow Oscar through the worst period of his life, in court, denying his identity. It feels like you're there in the courtroom with him, watching the terrible events unfold. You can feel the trial slipping away in Queensberry's favour, and truth be told it makes for quite painful reading. It's wonderful to hear Oscar still making people laugh, even under cross-examination from an old college fellow - he said Edward Carson would "pursue his case with all the added bitterness of an old friend" and he was right. Oscar's sharp witticisms are often a light relief from the darkness that covers the trial.
If you are interested in Wilde then this is essential reading. It's an inescapable part of his life, and this is, without a doubt, the best account you will get of it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good read and informative cleared up some misconceptions.
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