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TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
Clapham Junction & Oscar Wilde
Genius Oscar Wilde was humiliated at this very station
Location: St John's Hill, Clapham, SW11 1SP
Description: Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (born 16 October 1854 - died 30 November 1900) was an Irish writer and poet.
After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s.
Today he is remembered for his epigrams, plays and the circumstances of his imprisonment, followed by his early death.
While being transported to 'Reading Gaol' to serve a two year sentence of hard-labour for 'gross indecency with another man', he was subject to the humiliation of standing on the platform of Clapham Junction for half an hour, shackled for all the world to see and mocked by a mob - a complete stranger even spat in his face...an act that haunted Wilde to the end of his days.
At the height of his fame and success, whilst his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), was still on stage in London, Wilde sued the Marquess of Queensberry the father of his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, for libel.
The trial unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest, tried for gross indecency with other men. After two more trials he was convicted and imprisoned for two years' hard labour.
Upon his release he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life. He died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six.