On the 19th of May 1897, Irish writer Oscar Wilde was released from prison after serving a two year sentence for criminal sodomy and “gross indecency”. He had to go through hard labor and major deprivation, a very problematic situation for a hedonist accustomed to his creature comforts. His experiences in prison were the basis for his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol(1898).
In a bid to understand the reasoning behind Wilde’s imprisonment, Neil McKenna’sThe Secret Life of Oscar Wilde (2003) systematically investigated all available evidence about Wilde’s amorous liaisons, his lifelong erotic attraction to men and his subsequent support of Uranianism. The latter was a 19th-century term which referred to the actions of a person of a third sex, neither entirely male, nor female, someone with “a female psyche in a male body” who is sexually attracted to men, later extended as a definition…
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