The Ballad of Reading Gaol. London: Smithers, 1898. Seventh edition. Printed on handmade paper. Quarter linen mustard boards, covers lightly browned, contents in fine condition.
Cut Signature of the Marques of Queensberry tipped-in to front free endpaper "Scotland. Yours Faithfully, Queensberry."
John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry (1844-1900) was a Scottish nobleman, remembered for his atheism, his outspoken views, his brutish manner, for lending his name to the "Queensberry Rules" that form the basis of modern boxing, and for his role in the downfall of author and playwright Oscar Wilde. He was the father of Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie) Oscar Wilde's lover. Angered by the apparent ongoing homosexual relationship between them Queensberry left a calling card reading "For Oscar Wilde, posing as Somdomite" at Wilde's club. Wilde sued for criminal libel but was forced to abandon the case when lawyers informed the court that they intended to call several male prostitutes as witnesses to testify against him. As a result, Wilde was forced to pay costs and was left bankrupt; his assets were seized and sold at auction to pay the claim. Queensberry then sent the evidence collected by his detectives to Scotland Yard, which resulted in Wilde being charged and convicted of gross indecency under the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 and sentenced to two years' hard labour in Reading Gaol.
This seventh edition is the last of Smithers’s authorized editions and the first to include Wilde’s name in parenthesis of the title page.