Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle Collection: Forgeries MS. Wilde Forgeries

Rebecca Fenning Marschall
UCLA. William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street
Los Angeles, CA 90018
(323) 731-8529
rfenning@humnet.ucla.edu


Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: UCLA. William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
Title: Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle Collection: Forgeries
creator: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library.
source: Hodges, Figgis & Co.
Identifier/Call Number: MS. Wilde Forgeries
Physical Description: 1.0 Linear feet 2 boxes
Date (inclusive): 1887-1957
Abstract: This finding aid describes manuscript items that are confirmed or probable forgeries of Oscar Wilde's work and correspondence.
Clark Library.

Provenance

The materials in Series 1 of this finding aid were acquired in 1957 (MS.1957.007) from bookseller G.F. Sims, who in turn had purchased them from Dublin booksellers Hodges Figgis and Co. In 1921, William Figgis had purchased several Wilde manuscripts from someone posing as French writer Andre Gide, but soon realized that these items were actually forgeries and had no connection to the actual Andre Gide. Figgis met in Paris with an agent of "Gide's" who went by the name Dorian Hope, but whose real identity is unknown. Though Wilde's son Vyvyan Holland thought that Dorian Hope was his cousin Fabian Lloyd, Lloyd is presumed to have died in Mexico in 1918.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright has not been assigned to the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
For additional copyright information related to Oscar Wilde, contact Merlin Holland (email: merlin.holland[at]wanadoo.fr).

Alternate Forms Available

Portions of the collection are available on microfilm.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item, subseries and series], Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle Collection: Forgeries. Williams Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

Processing Note

In 1957, a printed catalog of all Wilde-related works then owned by the Clark Library (approximately 2900 items) was compiled by John Charles Finzi and published as Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle by the University of California Press. Over the course of the next four decades, many new Clark acquisitions were added to the collection and approximately one-third of the collection was microfilmed at least once.
In 2000, the first version of the Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle online finding aid, which described all archival materials in the Clark collections related to Wilde and his circle was written and encoded in EAD by John Howard Fowler. In 2009, this original finding aid was separated into several parts, edited and re-encoded by Rebecca Fenning in order to make its very large size (over 1000 pages) and scope more manageable for researchers. Instead of one guide describing the entire collection, there are now 5 more easily navigated guides devoted to different components of the collection.

Biographical Note

Oscar Wilde was born Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde in Dublin, Ireland, October 16, 1854. He attended Trinity College and Magdalen College, Oxford, winning the Newdigate prize in 1878 for the poem Ravenna. He subsequently established himself in London society as a champion of the new Aesthetic movement, advocating "art for art's sake," and publishing reviews and his Poems (1881). After being satirized (and made famous) as Bunthorne, the fleshly aesthetic poet in Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience, he made a year-long lecture tour of the United States, speaking on literature and the decorative arts. After his return to London, he married Constance Lloyd in 1884; they had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan Holland. In 1891 he met and began a love affair with the handsome but temperamental poet, Lord Alfred Douglas.
The 1890s saw both Wilde's greatest literary triumphs and his tragic downfall. His only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, appeared in 1891. The most famous of his witty social comedies-- Lady Windermere's Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)--were written and produced for the London stage. But in 1895, after becoming entangled in an unsuccessful libel suit against Douglas's father, Wilde was prosecuted for homosexuality. Convicted, he was sentenced to two years' hard labor.
While in prison, Wilde wrote De Profundis, a letter to Douglas, and after his release, he published the long poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898). But despite these final works, his career was essentially over. Bankrupt and in exile, his health ruined in prison, he died in Paris in 1900.

Scope and Content

The Forgeries finding aid describes manuscript items in the Clark Library collection that have been confirmed as forgeries, or which are strongly suspected of being forgeries of Oscar Wilde's work.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Literary forgeries and mystifications
William Andrews Clark Memorial Library.
Wilde, Oscar, 1854-1900--Forgeries
Hodges, Figgis & Co.
Millard, Christopher, 1872-1927

 

Series 1.  Letters from "Oscar Wilde" to Leonard Charles Smithers, 1880-1900

Box 72, Folder 4

Letter. 188-

Physical Description: ANS 1 leaf. Forgery. Mourning stationery headed: 16 Tite Street, Chelsea, SW. Without typescript.

Scope and Contents note

References: Finzi 2578; Dulau 42.

Also available on microfilm:

Wilde 28-12

Old Call Number

W6721L H926 [188-?]
Box 74, Folder 5

Letter. 189-

Physical Description: ANS 1 leaf. Writing does not appear to be in Oscar Wilde's hand. Either a forgery or a letter dictated by Wilde to someone who imitated his hand.

Also available on microfilm:

Wilde 28-83

Old Call Number

W6721L L434 [189-?]
Box 77, Folder 3

Letter. 1898 February 25

Physical Description: ALS 1 leaf. Possibly a forgery. Without typescript. With this: original envelope, addressed, stamped and cancelled; postmarked: Paris, February 25, 1898.

Scope and Contents note

References: Finzi 2776.

Also available on microfilm:

CLC 220, 249; Wilde 30-111

Old Call Number

W6721L S6642 [1898] [Feb. 25]
Box 77, Folder 3

Letter. 1899

Physical Description: ALS 3 p. Forgery.

Also available on microfilm:

Wilde 30-114

Old Call Number

W6721L S6642 [1899?]e
Box 77, Folder 3

Letter. 1899

Physical Description: ALS 3 p. Forgery.

Also available on microfilm:

Wilde 30-115

Old Call Number

W6721L S6642 [1899?]f
Box 77, Folder 3

Letter. 1899

Physical Description: ALS 4 p. Forgery. Without typescript.

Scope and Contents note

References: Finzi 2781.

Also available on microfilm:

CLC 220, 249; Wilde 30-112

Old Call Number

W6721L S6642 [1899?]a
Box 77, Folder 3

Letter. 1899

Physical Description: ALS 3 p. Forgery. Without typescript.

Scope and Contents note

References: Finzi 2782.

Also available on microfilm:

CLC 220, 249; Wilde 30-113

Old Call Number

W6721L S6642 [1899?]b
Box 74, Folder 3

Letter. 1900

Physical Description: ALS 4 p. Identified as a forgery in correspondence from Sir Rupert Hart-Davis,, dated 10 Nov. 1959. Without typescript.

Scope and Contents note

References: Finzi 2590a.

Also available on microfilm:

CLC 148; Wilde 28-16

Old Call Number

W6721L I31 [1900?]
Box 77, Folder 3

Letter. 1900

Physical Description: ALS 3 p. Forgery. Without typescript.

Scope and Contents note

References: Finzi 2785.

Also available on microfilm:

CLC 220, 249; Wilde 30-116

Old Call Number

W6721L S6642 [1900?]
Box 77, Folder 3

Letter. 1900

Physical Description: ALS 4 p. Forgery.

Also available on microfilm:

Wilde 30-99

Old Call Number

W6721L S6642 [1900?]a
 

Series 2.  Forgeries from "Andre Gide" and Dorian Hope 1920-1957

Physical Description: .83 Linear Feet2 boxes

Provenance

Clark Library purchase, 1957 from G.F. Sims catalog 35 (MS.1957.007). Purchased by Sims from Hodges Figgis and Co. catalog 10 (issued in 1953).

Scope and Contents

Contains forgeries offered for sale to William Figgis of Dublin booksellers Hodges Figgis in 1921, as well as correspondence related to the forgeries from 1921-1957. Forged works include alleged correspondence from Wilde as well as draft manuscripts of his literary and dramatic work. Letters include correspondence from the fake Andre Gide as well as the real Andre Gide, various booksellers (Maggs, Davis and Orioli, Gabriel Wells), Christopher Millard, and Vyvyan Holland. Some supplementary published material from the 1950s regarding the collection is also included.

Arrangement

Materials are described in three separate subseries: Subseries 2.1. Letters from "Oscar Wilde" ; Subseries 2.2. Manuscripts ; and Subseries 2.3. Correspondence regarding collection. Materials are physically arranged in the order in which they are described in Sims Catalog 35.

Existence and Location of Copies

Microfilm available: Wilde 21-2

Original Call Number

Originally cataloged as W6721M C697 1887 1900 Boxed.

Historical Note

This series contains forged works by Oscar Wilde and offered for sale by a person (or persons) posing as Andre Gide and his agent Dorian Hope. Though these forgeries have been attributed to Fabian Lloyd, Wilde's nephew by marriage, it is highly unlikely that Lloyd was involved, as he is thought to have died at sea in 1920. The materials collected here were purchased by William Figgis of Dublin booksellers Hodges Figgis and Co. He sold 2 items to fellow booksellers Davis and Orioli who had doubts about their authenticity and returned them to Figgis. This prompted Figgis to arrange a meeting with "Andre Gide" in Paris, where he was met not by Gide but by his alleged agent Dorian Hope. After meeting Hope, he set out to visit the real Andre Gide, who was deeply upset and denied any knowledge of such Wilde manuscripts. Figgis later sought the help of Wilde expert Christopher Millard, who at first believed the manuscripts were all genuine, though he quickly changed his mind.
In 1953, Hodges Figgis offered the "Wilde"-"Gide" material for sale in their catalog number 10 (lot 3497).
 

Subseries 2.1 Letters from "Oscar Wilde"

Physical Description: Many of these letters originally housed together in one envelope from Hodges, Figgis. Envelope now in Box 1/Folder 12.
Box 1, Folder 2

"Oscar Wilde" to Andre Gide 189-? 16 November

Physical Description: 4 pages. Sims catalogue no. 1
Box 1, Folder 3

"Oscar Wilde" to "my dear Sir" 1895 April 11

Physical Description: 1 page. Sims catalogue no. 2
Box 1, Folder 4

"Oscar Wilde" to "my dear friend" undated

Physical Description: 1 page. Sims catalogue no. 3.
Box 1, Folder 5

"Oscar Wilde" to "my dear friend" undated

Physical Description: 2 pages. Sims catalogue no. 4
Box 1, Folder 7

"Oscar Wilde" to "my dear friend" 1894 January 28

Physical Description: 3 pages. Regarding a review in the Pall Mall Gazette. Sims catalogue no. 6
Box 1, Folder 6

"Oscar Wilde" to "my dear Sir" undated

Physical Description: 2 pages. Sims catalogue no. 5
Box 1, Folder 8

"Oscar Wilde" to "my dear friend" 1895 January 3

Physical Description: 3 pages. Sims catalogue no. 7
Box 1, Folder 9

"Oscar Wilde" to "dear friend" undated

Physical Description: 1 page. Sims catalogue no. 8
Box 1, folder 10

"Oscar Wilde" to "mon cher frere" 18--? May 3

Physical Description: 3 pages. Supposedly written from "Hotel d'Alsace": "The doctor tells me I am better today..." Sims catalogue no. 9
Box 1, Folder 11

"Oscar Wilde" to Octave Mirbeau 18--? October 29

Physical Description: 4 pages. Sims catalogue no. 10
Box 1, Folder 13

2 visiting cards with inscriptions by "Wilde"

Physical Description: Inscriptions in pencil. Sims catalog no. 11
Box 1, Folder 14

Reproduction of Wilde photograph and negative with forged inscription 1882

Physical Description: Sims catalogue no. 12
Books PR5819 .P613Fr 1895* c.2

Inscription to "L.J." in a copy of Le portrait de Dorian Gray (traduit de l'anglais), (Paris, Albert Savine, 1895)

Physical Description: Bound in original wrappers. Catalog record in UCLA Library Catalog.  Sims catalog no. 14
Box 1, folder 16

"Oscar Wilde" inscription on a brochure for Robert B. Douglas's Life and times of Madame du Barry (Leonard Smithers, 1896) 1896?

Physical Description: Sims catalog no. 15
 

Subseries 2.2 Manuscripts

Box 1, Folder 15

Several drafts of poem "Passion digs a grave for love"

Physical Description: 6 pages, in purple ink. Sims catalog no. 13
Box 1, Folder 17

"Mr. Swinburne's poems and ballads (3rd series)"

Physical Description: 10 pages, in purple ink with numerous corrections and pencilled heading.
Box 1, Folder 18

Lord Arthur Savile's Crime

Physical Description: 66 leaves. Written in black ink and pencil with corrections in purple. Housing from Hodges Figgis in Box 1/Folder 19. Sims catalogue no. 17
Box 1, Folder 20

The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Physical Description: 42 leaves. In purple ink with corrections and with an inscription to Octave Mirabeau on the head of the text. Sims catalog no. 18.
Box 1, Folder 21

The Importance of Being Earnest

Physical Description: 78 pages. Incomplete; written in black ink. Sims catalog no. 19
Box 1, Folder 22

The Importance of Being Earnest, Act II

Physical Description: 67 pages. Written in purple ink. Sims catalog no. 20
Box 1, Folder 23

First and last verses of The Sphinx

Physical Description: 2 sheets, in pencil. Sims catalog no. 21
Box 1, Folder 24

Fragments of 2 poems

Physical Description: 1 page, in black ink. Sims catalog no. 22
Box 1, Folder 25

The Nightingale and the Rose

Physical Description: 6 leaves. Sims catalogue no. 23
Box 1, Folder 26

The Sphinx Without a Secret

Physical Description: 20 pages, in purple ink. Sims catalog no. 24
Box 1, Folder 27

The Decay of Lying

Physical Description: 10 leaves. Written in black and purple ink. Sims catalogue no. 25
Box 1, Folder 28-29

A Woman of No Importance

Physical Description: 168 leaves. Written in black ink with pencil notes. Booksellers' original housings in Box 1/Folder 30. Sims catalogue no. 26
 

Subseries 2.3 Letters regarding collection

Physical Description: Housing from 1920s bookseller letters in Box 2/Folder 13.
Box 2, Folder 1

"Andre Gide" to William Figgis 1921-1922

Physical Description: 13 letters from "Gide" and carbon copies of 2 letters from Figgis to "Gide." Sims Catalogue no. 27
Box 2, Folder 2

David Rice to William Figgis 1921

Physical Description: 2 letters. Sims catalog no. 28
Box 2, Folder 3

Maggs Bros. to William Figgis 1921

Physical Description: 2 letters and a telegram. Sims catalog no. 29
Box 1, Folder 4

Gabriel Wells to Davis and Orioli 1922

Physical Description: Sims catalog no. 30
Box 2, Folder 5

Davis and Orioli to William Figgis, with receipt for return 1922

Physical Description: Sims catalog no. 31
Box 2, Folder 6

C. Frederic Harrison (Brentano's Paris) to William Figgis 1921-1922

Physical Description: 14 letters. Sims catalogue no. 32
Books PR5823 .G453o *

Andre Gide, Oscar Wilde : in memoriam (Paris: Mercure de France, 1910)

Physical Description: Copy of book presented to William Figgis by "Andre Gide." Cataloged in UCLA Library Catalog.  Sims catalog no. 33
Box 2, Folder 7

Andre Gide to William Figgis 1922 January 9

Physical Description: with original envelope. Sims catalogue no. 34
Box 2, Folder 8

Andre Gide to C. Frederic Harrison 1922 January 5

Physical Description: MISSING AS OF 8/20/2014. Sims catalog no. 35
Box 2, Folder 10

"Wilde Mss.," typed essay by William Figgis 192-?

Physical Description: Sims catalog no. 37
Box 2, Folder 9

Christopher Millard to William Figgis 1922-1926

Physical Description: 15 letters. Sims catalogue no. 36
Box 2, Folder 11

Vyvyan Holland to William Figgis 1955

Physical Description: 3 letters. Sims catalogue no. 38
Box 2, Folder 12

Dudley Edwards to William Figgis 1954

Box 2, Folder 14

Dudley Edwards, "The Wilde goose chase," The Amateur Book Collector, Vol. VII, no. 5 (1957) 1957

Box 2, Folder 15

"The 'Wonderful Forgeries,'" UCLA Librarian, volume 10, no. 25 (1957 September 6)

Box 2, Folder 16

Hodges Figgis and Co. Ltd., Catalog 10 (New Series) 1953

Box 1, folder 1

G.F. Sims Catalogue 35