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WILDE, Oscar.

The Chameleon.

Vol. I. Number I.

London: Gay and Bird, [1894] Stock Code: 144072
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The first and only number of The Chameleon to be published, noted as number 25 of 100 copies in manuscript to the front wrapper, containing the first appearance of Wilde's "Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young", two poems by Lord Alfred Douglas, and the editor John Francis Bloxam's anonymous and controversial homoerotic drama "The Priest and the Acolyte", which was used as a comprising exhibit in the trial of Oscar Wilde.

The story details the love affair between a priest and his male lover and sparked public outcry upon publication, causing the cessation of The Chameleon after just one issue. The work was wrongly attributed to Oscar Wilde and included as evidence against him in his libel case against the Marquis of Queensbury in 1895.

Copies of this journal are now notably uncommon, with seven traced institutionally worldwide, four of which at the British Library. Of the five copies recorded as appearing at auction since the millennium, only one surviving unbound in the original wrappers as issued.

Provenance: neat contemporary ownership inscription "RAF Festing, E. Coll Reg." to head of front wrapper. Purchased by book dealer and co-founder of the Society for Theatre Research Ifan Kyrle Fletcher, with his dealer's notes in pencil on the front wrapper and ink to the postal envelope, addressed to him. Sold by Fletcher to Helen Hambro, née Boyson (1936-2004), an editorial assistant for the Society's Theatre Notebook, and bought from the Hambro estate.

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Quarto. Original green paper wrappers printed in dark green. With a Library of Congress postal envelope addressed to bookseller Ifan Kyrle Fletcher.


Loss to spine and wrapper edges, most notably to head of front wrapper, front wrapper neatly secured, wrappers faintly browned, internally clean; a good copy of this fragile work.


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