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The Oscar Wilde File treats history as news, news as history, in telling the story of the trials and tribulations that were heaped upon the great Irish writer following the "Black" Marquess of Queensberry's accusation that he was "posing as Somdornite" - an accusation that was made at the time when Wilde was enjoying his greatest success, with two plays (An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Ernest) receiving their premieres in the West End and on Broadway.
Press cuttings, pictures, posters, theatre programmes, and other ephemera are used to recreate the fascination felt by readers in 1895. New light is thrown on many of the leading participants, including Lord Alfred Douglas - and the sly parts played by two men, actors in the production of An Ideal Husband, are revealed as being salient in bringing about Wilde's downfall.
As in most great tragedies, there are moments of high comedic relief And the tale has implications, even now, concerning public and Establishment attitudes to pornography, homosexuality, and the use and misuse of the Law by the rich and powerful.
The Oscar Wilde File is a splendidly entertaining book - but one that will make many people wish that they were reading fiction, not fact.