The Oscar Wilde's Scandalous Summer: The 1894 Worthing Holiday and the Aftermath
In the summer of 1894 Oscar Wilde spent eight weeks in Worthing. It was during this family holiday that he wrote his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest. The two months in Worthing were a microcosm of Wilde's turbulent life during the three years between his falling in love with Lord Alfred Douglas ('Bosie') in 1892 and his imprisonment in 1895. Constance Wilde, lonely and depressed, became emotionally involved with her husband's publisher, to whom she wrote a love-letter on the day he visited the Wildes in Worthing. Meanwhile Wilde was spending much of his time with the feckless and demanding Douglas and with three teenage boys he regularly took out sailing, swimming and fishing. One of these boys was Alphonse Conway, with whom Wilde became sexually involved, and about whom he was to be questioned at length and to damaging effect in court six months later, when he sued Douglas's father, the Marquess of Queensberry, for libel. Oscar Wilde and the Scandalous Summer of Earnest tells for the first time the full extraordinary story of the final summer before Wilde's life fell apart and reassesses the aftermath, offering fresh insights into Wilde's attitude to the boys and young men with whom he was involved.
Antony Edmonds was born in Southsea in 1951 and educated at Churcher's College, Petersfield, and Magdalen College, Oxford. He has had a lifelong interest in Oscar Wilde, and has published numerous articles in the journal of the Oscar Wilde Society. His previous book, Jane Austen's Worthing: The Real Sanditon, was published by Amberley in 2013.