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Wilde (Oscar) and his Literary Circle Collection: Forgeries
MS. Wilde Forgeries  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Provenance
  • Access
  • Restrictions on Use
  • Alternate Forms Available
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Note
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement

  • Contributing Institution: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
    Title: Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle Collection: Forgeries
    Identifier/Call Number: MS. Wilde Forgeries
    Physical Description: 5 boxes
    Date (inclusive): 1887-1957
    Abstract: This finding aid describes confirmed or probable forgeries of Oscar Wilde's work and correspondence, in addition to describing materials about Wilde forgeries, dating primarily from the 1920s.
    Physical Location: Clark Library.
    Language of Material: English .


    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.
    Series 2 consists of photocopies of materials in the possession of Maggs Bros.
    The materials in Series 3 were acquired by the UCLA Library in 1957 from bookseller G.F. Sims (MS.1957.008) The materials in Series 5 are of unknown provenance.


    Collection is open for research.

    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

    This collection contains manuscript materials that have been confirmed as or strongly suspected of being forgeries of Oscar Wilde's work, in addition to legal and other materials related to such forgeries. Materials described here date largely from the 1920s and include forged literary manuscripts and correspondence said to be from Wilde, correspondence regarding forged materials, legal documents, news clippings and booksellers' catalogs.
    Series 1 and 2 below contain materials thought to be composed by the same forger or group of forgers, going by the name Dorian Hope. In 1921, London antiquarian booksellers Maggs Bros. and Dublin booksellers Hodges Figgis were both offered previously unknown Wilde manuscripts from people posing as Pierre Louÿs and André Gide (respectively). Dorian Hope posed as an intermediary between the booksellers,"Louÿs" and "Gide." Though the materials related to Hodges Figgis' dealings with Hope/"Gide" are included in this collection, Maggs Bros. still retains their archive of forged Wilde materials and correspondence from "Louÿs" -- the materials described below are photocopies from their collections.
    Series 3 contains material related to Mrs. Chan-Toon (née Mabel Cosgrove) and For the love of the king, a Burma-themed play that she alleged Wilde had written for her in the 1890s. Christopher Millard, Wilde's bibliographer, was sued for libel in 1926 by her publishers Methuen and Co., and he assembled an exhaustive dossier of his evidence and of the court proceedings.


    This collection is organized into 5 series: Series 1. Forgeries from "Andre Gide" and Dorian Hope; Series 2. Forgeries from Pierre Louÿs; Series 3. Mrs. Chan-Toon and "Who wrote "For the Love of the King?"; Series 4. Letters from "Oscar Wilde" to Leonard Smithers; Series 5. Miscellaneous Forgeries.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Literary forgeries and mystifications