Restrictions on Use
Alternate Forms Available
Scope and Content
William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
Title: Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle Collection: Forgeries
Identifier/Call Number: MS. Wilde Forgeries
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:
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:
Alternate Forms Available
Portions of the collection are available on microfilm.
[Identification of item, subseries and series], Oscar Wilde and his Literary Circle
Collection: Forgeries. Williams Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California,
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
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,
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.
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
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
An Ideal Husband (1895), and
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'
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