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Thursday, 30 November, 2000, 10:27 GMT
Fans mark Wilde centenary
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde died penniless aged 46
Actors and writers are gathering in London on Thursday to mark the centenary of the death of Oscar Wilde.

Actor Simon Callow and author Sir John Mortimer will pay tribute to the Irish writer and wit, who died penniless in a hotel in Paris aged 46 on 30 November 1900.

Callow will read from De Profundis, the letter Wilde wrote from prison to his young lover Lord Alfred Douglas, better known as Bosie.

Wilde's affair with him landed the writer a two-year hard labour sentence in 1895 after he was found guilty of seven counts of gross indecency.

The sentence, handed down weeks after his most famous work, The Importance of Being Earnest, made its London stage debut, left Wilde a broken man. Upon his release he fled to France, where he lived until his death.

Wilde revival

Singers from the Royal and Guildhall Schools of Music will perform music from the Gilbert and Sullivan opera Patience, which is closely associated with Wilde.

Sir John Mortimer, who created Rumpole of The Bailey, will talk about Wilde and socialism, and his grandson Merlin Holland will lay a wreath beneath a window dedicated to Wilde in the abbey's Poets Corner.

Other performers invited to the event include Dame Judi Dench, Jeremy Irons and Vanessa Redgrave, who played Wilde's mother in the 1997 film of his life.

Guests will move on to a reception at the British Library to join Irish President Mary McAleese, where comedian Graham Norton will join Holland in toasting the writer.

The centenary of Wilde's death has sparked a revival of interest in the writer, whose works include An Ideal Husband and Lady Windermere's Fan.

The British Library is staging an exhibition, while Merlin Holland recently published a collection of his letters.

It had been believed that Wilde died of syphillis, but recent research claimed his life had been ended by a rare ear infection.

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07 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Wilde letter goes on show
29 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Wilde recording 'a fake'
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