The importance of Oscar

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The Independent Culture
The importance of Oscar

Performances of the little-known musicals The Importance, Earnestly Yours and Born in a Handbag are (sadly) hard to come by. Productions of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's opera L'importanze d'essere franco are rarer than hen's teeth. Happily, the original play, The Importance of Being Earnest, has survived these and other indignities foisted upon it since its first performance on 14 February 1895. The same might be said for its author Oscar Wilde. This year also marks the centenary of his trial and subsequent imprisonment for "homosexual offences" due to the dogged persistence of the Marquess of Queensbury, father of Wilde's lover - and erstwhile friend - Bosie Douglas. Nearly 50 years later, Bosie was dining with friends when a young man who knew no better mentioned Wilde's name. There were audible gasps at the table, followed by a deathly silence, broken only by Bosie who roused himself to observe, "Ah yes...Wilde. Hmmm. We were rather thick once." The Home Secretary has seen fit not to grant one of our greatest writers a posthumous pardon, but there are other ways of honouring the dead. Heaven knows what Wilde would have made of Tuesday's ceremony at Westminster Abbey (6pm) in which a plaque in his memory will be unveiled in the memorial stained-glass window in Poet's Corner.

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