WILDE (OSCAR) Autograph letter signed ("OW"), to his publisher Leonard Smithers ("My Dear Smithers"), begging for £5, 1899
Lot 159
WILDE (OSCAR) Autograph letter signed ("OW"), to his publisher Leonard Smithers ("My Dear Smithers"), begging for £5, 1899
Sold for £6,875 (US$ 11,679) inc. premium
Lot Details
WILDE (OSCAR)
Autograph letter signed ("OW"), to his publisher Leonard Smithers ("My Dear Smithers"), begging for £5 and acknowledging the £5 already sent: "The £5 arrived last night – and I am leaving for Paris – same address – Hotel Marseilles – The Marseilles./ Do wire the other £5 tomorrow thro' Cook – I have only enough to pay my bill and reach Paris. You will be paid on July 2st – it is only a loan for four days. Surely you cant object. Its not a big sum to ask for", subscribed with a squiggle; with autograph envelope, directed to Smithers at his premises at 5 Old Bond Street, stamped and postmarked, one page, on squared paper, watermarked 'A.N. Paris Made in Scotland', light time-staining on verso, some weakness at folds, envelope yellowed and torn open at reverse flap, Le Havre [26 June 1899]

Footnotes

  • 'I HAVE ONLY ENOUGH TO PAY MY BILL AND REACH PARIS': THE DESTITUTE WILDE BEGS MONEY FROM LEONARD SMITHERS, a poignant letter dating from the years following Wilde's release from Reading Gaol when, after publication of The Ballad of Reading Gaol, his writing career was behind him and the life that was left to him became 'a helpless drift from place to place, centring on Paris' (Owen Dudley Edwards). Smithers had not only published The Ballad when no other publisher would touch it, but after Wilde's disgrace 'almost single-handedly saved the avant-garde writers and artists from extinction' (James G. Nelson). Indeed it was partly as a result of his generosity to authors such as Wilde that Smithers was to be rendered bankrupt on 18 September 1900, dying in poverty – having scraped a living by issuing piracies of the very works by Wilde that he had originally published – seven years later.
    Published by Holland and Hart-Davis Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, p. 1156.
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