On 22 February 1892 Oscar Wilde’s play Lady Windermere’s Fan was first produced. Irish-born Wilde spent many years in London, living at Tite Street in Chelsea – a fashionable address for artistic and literary folk. The house at 16 (now 34) Tite Street was the Wilde family home from 1884 to his arrest in 1895.
Wilde was arrested for gross indecency, found guilty and sentenced to the maximum punishment possible, two years’ hard labour. After serving some time in London’s Pentonville and Wandsworth prisons, he was transferred to Reading. Wilde, known then as Prisoner C. 3.3 was not, initially, even allowed paper and pen. Upon his eventual release, Wilde left the country for France, where he spent the remainder of his life and wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol, with its famous line, “Yet each man kills the thing he loves.”
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