WILDE, Oscar.

Two autograph letters signed to his close friend Arthur Clifton.

1 August 1887; second letter n.d. Stock Code: 144930
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Wilde and the theatre

Two autograph letters from Wilde, both signed with his initials "OW", to Arthur Bellamy Clifton, one of his closest and oldest friends; inviting Clifton to, and apologizing for missing, the theatre, both letters, the first sprightly and the latter depressed, characterful and apparently unpublished.

The first letter arranges to meet the following evening at a theatre in Drury Lane, retaining the original envelope made out in Wilde's hand; the second, which is undated, apologises for failing to meet him at the Lyric Theatre, writing he "was tried and ill and cross".

Arthur Bellamy Clifton (1862-1932), solicitor and art dealer, was the son of Robert Bellamy Clifton, Oxford Professor of Experimental Philosophy. He was a friend of Robbie Ross, and, like Ross, remained a lifelong friend of Wilde and also of his wife Constance. Wilde lent him 120 to get married to his first wife, Marjorie, and published a poem of his in the March 1889 issue of Woman's World. In De Profundis Wilde names him, with Ross, More Adey, Robert Sherard, and Frank Harris, as one of a few loyal friends who gave him "comfort, help, affection, sympathy, and the like". He is similarly named on the funeral wreath at the time of Wilde's death among the small group "who had shown kindness to him during or after his imprisonment" (Letters 856).

Clifton, having supported Wilde during his hearings, became his solicitor and bankruptcy trustee, and continued to help Wilde with his financial and legal affairs until his death. He was co-trustee with Carlos Blacker of Constance Wilde's marriage settlement.

After Wilde's death he was a successful art dealer (for some time in partnership with Robbie Ross) with the Carfax Gallery in St James's, where several important exhibitions were held, notably those of the caricatures of Max Beerbohm, the paintings of Roger Fry and, in 1911, the first exhibition of the Camden Town Group.

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Together 2 pages octavo, integral blanks, the first letter with an autograph envelope postmarked 1 August 1887.


Traces of former mounting to first letter and slight soiling to envelope, general light age toning. In very good condition overall.


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