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Last Updated: Friday, 29 October, 2004, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Wilde collection sells at auction
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde was born in 1854
A handwritten chapter of Oscar Wilde's A Picture of Dorian Gray has sold for 72,000 at an auction marking the 150th anniversary of his birth.

The manuscript of chapter 16, complete with revisions, was part of an extensive collection of books, letters and photographs on sale in London.

The auction raised 850,392 in total at Sotheby's auction house, surpassing previous estimates of 600,000

The items had been put together by a private collector over 20 years.

A rehearsal copy of Wilde's first play Vera, or the Nihilists sold for 50,400 to a UK dealer.

A first edition of Dorian Gray inscribed to Wilde's friend Marcel Schwob was also included in the sale.

Sotheby's auctioneer
Chapter 16 of Dorian Gray was added to lengthen the story
But a copy of a novel written by Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas - whose father the Marquess of Queensberry was instrumental in Wilde's downfall - was one of 14 lots that remained unsold.

The copy, one of only two of the unpublished book The Wilde Myth, describes Wilde as "one of the most powerful forces for evil that has happened in Europe for the last three hundred years".

Forced sale

Wilde launched an unsuccessful libel action against the Marquess of Queensberry, who branded him a sodomite.

The cost of the case forced Wilde to sell off the majority of his household possessions.

A catalogue relating to the auction of his belongings from Tite Street, Chelsea, also remained unsold.

Wilde was jailed for gross indecency with two years hard labour in 1897. He died penniless in 1900 at the age of 46.

Donald Mead, chairman of the Oscar Wilde society, said the lots that went unsold did not merit their high reserve prices.

"The prices were too high. Obviously the market thought so," he said.

Oscar Wilde's wit and wisdom
15 Oct 04  |  Entertainment
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06 Aug 04  |  Entertainment
Wilde at heart
30 Nov 00  |  Entertainment

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