by Jodie Larkin and Nikki Rai
In accordance with LGBT+ history month, this vlog explores Oscar Wilde’s infamous stay in Reading Gaol (later HM Reading Prison). During the late nineteenth century, Wilde was at the height of success: hit wit, style and sharp writings propelled him into the heights of both Dublin and London society. However his infamous affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, also known as Boise, would ultimately lead Wilde to imprisonment. The brutal Victorian system, isolation and Reading Gaol itself changed Wilde. This video explores inside the prison in which Wilde spent part of his bleak sentence and the prisons relationship to the town that marked the latter half of Wilde’s life. Through a variety of artist exhibitions, including contributions from Nan Goldin, Steve McQueen and many others, the prison’s history is brought alive with an open and defiant honesty.
This vlog was made for our Discovering Archives and Collection module 2016-2017. With special thanks to the Berkshire Records Office, Reading Jail and University of Reading Special Collections. The vlog is best listened to through earphones!