Oscar Wilde, Imprisoned for Homosexuality

Wilde and Bosie

It is a sight we can only imagine as no photograph exists. Oscar Wilde in prison garb, wearing a cap with a thick veil to cover his face, his body weakened from being malnourished, his mind disheveled from duress.

It was May of 1895 when Oscar was sent to prison for two years. His punishment was less than the judge wanted. “It is the worst case I have ever tried. In my judgement it is totally inadequate for such a case as this. The sentence of the Court is that you be imprisoned and kept to hard labor for two years,” were the words of the judge.

Oscar had been tried and convicted of gross indecency. That was the technical term. His crime was homosexuality.

In 1891, Oscar had fallen in love with Lord Alfred Douglas, known as “Bosie,” a 21 year old Oxford undergraduate. Their love blossomed. Then Bosie’s father, a man intolerant to homosexual relations found out.

His father accused Oscar of sodomy. Oscar countered with a suit of libel. In the suit though, the homosexual relations of Oscar’s life were revealed. The suit was dropped, but then came the case against Oscar for which he ultimately went to prison.

Upon his release, when others recommended he forget his time and the reasons for his imprisonment, Oscar wrote that “To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life.”

The photo is of Oscar and Bosie in 1893.