Revealing Wilde letters sold for £30,000

A series of rare letters in which Oscar Wilde appears to proposition the editor of a ladies' magazine sold for more than £30,000 today, an auction house said.

In one of the five letters to Alsager Vian, the poet and playwright asks whether they could dine at his club before staying in his room.

But nothing appears to have come of Wilde's advances in 1887. Two years later, Vian fathered a son Philip, who went on to become one of Britain's most decorated admirals during the First and Second World Wars. In 1895, Wilde was imprisoned for homosexuality.

But the intention of the letters is clear.

In his final four-page correspondence, Wilde writes: "Come and dine at Pagani's in Portland Street on Friday - 7.30.

"No dress - just ourselves and a flask of Italian wine - afterwards we will smoke cigarettes and Talk over the Journalistic article - could we go to your rooms, I am so far off, and clubs are difficult to Talk in.

"This however is for you entirely to settle. Also send me your address again like a good fellow - I have lost it."

The letters were kept by Vian from the Society Magazines era until his death in 1924 when they were found in the locked drawer of his bureau.

They have stayed in his family until they were sold today to a British woman for £33,900 at an auction in Derby.

The auction attracted bids from America, Canada and Turkey but the letters will remain in Britain in the buyer's private collection.

Alan Judd, from Bamfords Auctioneers, which held today's sale, said: "Letters from Oscar Wilde are very rare, particularly at this time as he wasn't writing great plays and novels but very trite little pieces for ladies' magazines.

"What's interesting is that he appears to be propositioning Vian. It was only eight years later that he (Wilde) had his problems with homosexuality and was imprisoned.

"The letters were in perfect condition. There was only one intention in the letters, Wilde was hoping to meet up with him. If they could have shown anything happened, they would have made twice as much."