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The importance of being honest

A questionnaire completed and signed by the homosexual playwright Oscar Wilde in his student days, in which he claimed vanity, conceit and self- esteem as the traits he most detested in men and women, fetched pounds 23,000 yesterday, ten times its estimated value, when a mystery telephone bidder bought the handwritten manuscript at Christie's in London.

The questionnaire was completed in 1877, when Wilde was unknown and studying at Oxford University, and is contained in a previously unheard-of two- page entry in Album for Confessions, or Tastes, Habits and Convictions, compiled by a contemporary. Wilde, who later rose to fame for works such as The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest, put his full name Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde at the top of the 40-question sheet in the album. Asked what his aim in life was, Wilde replied: "Success, fame or even notoriety."