©National Archives

Marquis of Queensberry's Calling Card for Oscar Wilde, 18 February 1895 Oscar Wilde, the brilliant conversationalist and playwright, was at the height of his fame when he became friendly with Lord Alfred Douglas, the son of the Marquess of Queensberry, the originator of the modern rules of boxing.

The marquis left this card at the Albemarle Club near Piccadilly on 18 February 1895. The (misspelt) message reads 'For Oscar Wilde posing Somdomite', though in court he would claim it read '.posing as a Somdomite'.

Wilde unsuccessfully sued the Marquess for libel, and as a result was in turn tried for homosexual acts. He was found guilty of gross indecency and sentenced to two years' hard labour. Wilde served the whole of his sentence and was released on 19 May 1897. He spent the rest of his life in Paris, living under the pseudonym Sebastian Melmoth.

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