Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods


Opening Round

The preliminaries out of the way, Clarke called Oscar Wilde. Wilde carried himself regally to the witness stand, took the oath, and gave a brief introduction about himself to the jury.

Clarke, as skilled a barrister as ever set foot in Old Bailey, knew that it was better to have bad news out on direct examination rather than let Carson reveal it during cross-examination. He began asking the embarrassing questions. The first was about an incident of blackmail involving Oscar and Bosie.

Several years prior, while Lord Alfred was in school at Oxford, he gave a suit of clothes to a down-and-out friend, Alfred Wood. Unbeknownst to Lord Alfred, the letters from Wilde in which he wrote of Alfred's "kissable lips" were in the suit and were found by Wood.

Wood offered the letters back to Wilde for 30 pounds, which Wilde paid. Left unsaid in the testimony was a more physical relationship between Alfred Wood and Oscar Wilde.

Clarke then asked Wilde to tell of his relationship with Queensberry.

"I pointed him out to my servant," Wilde said after recounting the episode in which Queensberry came to Oscar's home uninvited. "I said, 'this is the Marquess of Queensberry, the most infamous brute in London. You are never to allow him to enter my house again.'"

Next, Clarke asked Wilde if he was a homosexual.

"It is not true that I was expelled from the Savoy Hotel at any time. Neither is it true that I took rooms in Piccadilly for Lord Queensberry's son," Wilde said emphatically denying the allegations Queensberry was spreading.

Trying to drive the point home, Clarke rephrased the question.

CLARKE: Is there any truth in any of these accusations?

WILDE: There is no truth whatever in any one of them.

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