Famous inmate

Reading Prison (or Reading Gaol as it was known then) is one of the prisons where Oscar Wilde served his two year sentence for committing (then illegal) homosexual offences.

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Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie) and Oscar Wilde both by Marlene Dumas

He had been at the height of his fame for writing novels or plays at the time of the conviction.  It appears that despite his sentence to hard labour, he was awarded some concessions in Reading, the last of three prisons he was held in.  One example was the number of books he eventually had in his cell.

Famously, he wrote De Profundis while in Reading Goal, an account of his lifestyle before prison and his inner thoughts and spiritual development while imprisoned.  It technically takes the form of a letter, as prisoners were only allowed to write letters, not novels or autobiographies.

The original door and a cement footprint of his cell were on display in the large room originally designed to be the prison chapel.  You can see that in its more recent past it was used as a sports hall.

The experience and writings of Oscar Wilde have inspired many over the years, including Deborah Levy, who wrote this letter to him.  I suspect the flowers were replaced at regular intervals during the ArtAngel exhibit.

I’ll leave you with this final observation by Oscar (presumably after his release).

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For daily pictures you can follow me on tumblr. at www.traveltash.tumblr.com, like the Travel-Tales page on Facebook at  www.facebook.com/traveltalesorg  and follow me on Twitter @tash_higman.



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