Campaigners want Oscar Wilde’’s blue plaque removed after child abuser revelation

January 5th, 2009 - 7:16 pm ICT by ANI  

Gary Glitter

London, Jan 5 (ANI): Irish playwright Oscar Wilde earned himself the ire of campaigners from the south coast town of Worthing, when it was discovered that he was a child abuser.

Wilde had lived in the resort in 1894, where he had penned The Importance of Being Ernest, naming character Jack Worthing in its honour, and a blue plaque had been hosted in his honour at Esplanade Court on the seafront.

But now the town wants to rid itself of the honour, ever since Chris Hare, a local historian, raised the question of Wilde’’s relationships with teenage boys in a new book, Worthing, a History: Riots and Respectability in a Seaside Town.

In the book, Hare mentioned that there was documented evidence that Wilde seduced boys there, and that a 14-year-old, called Alphonso, had to leave the town because of it.

People often think of Wilde as a martyr, but it’’s a bit unsavory cruising around looking for sexual favours from young boys, isn”t it? Even today people would not find that acceptable. It reminds me of Gary Glitter, the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

Though Hare did not personally think that the plaque should be taken down, because his talents in literature stand aside from his personal behaviour, he believes that Worthing celebrated Wilde too enthusiastically.

I myself would fight tooth and nail for any campaign to erase a link between Worthing and a child abuser, he added.

Wilde was jailed in 1895 for gross indecency following an affair with an Oxford University undergraduate, Lord Alfred Douglas, becoming a cause celebre for those seeking sexual freedom in the process.

Michael Seeney, of the Oscar Wilde Society, said: Whatever one’’s view about Wilde’’s life, he is indisputably famous and widely honoured. (ANI)

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