Oscar Wilde’s Cigarette Case

This silver cigarette case was presented by Bosie Douglas to his disgraced lover, Oscar Wilde. To launch Gilbert and Sullivan’s latest operetta Patience in America – a satire on Aestheticism – the impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte paid Wilde to undertake an extensive lecture tour of the United States in 1882. To everyone’s surprise (including his own), the flamboyant author and professional aesthete won over America – and the West – to such an extent that his lecture tour had to be extended into the following year.


3 thoughts on “Oscar Wilde’s Cigarette Case”

  1. Wilde was probably riding high, rather than ‘disgraced’, when Bosie had these five lines from Donne’s ‘Canonisation’ engraved for him. Torn from its original context the excerpt mounts a defiant defence of their love, which did not last past Wilde’s disgrace.


    1. It’s not quite true to say Wilde and Bosie’s love did not last past Wilde’s disgrace—they we reconciled for a period, and cohabited, after Wilde’s release from prison. Wilde wrote letters in 1897 about their love, saying it was necessary that they should come together again, Wilde saying of Bosie “he is my life.” Of course, the relationship remained stormy and didn’t last.

      John Cooper


  2. A few points of errata—no criticism intended.

    Because the showcasing of Douglas’s cigarette case with Wilde’s lecture tour of America is anachronous, it may be misleading: Oscar and Bosie did not meet until almost ten years after Wilde’s tour of America.

    While the lecture tour of 1882 was successively extended, it did not extend into ‘the following year’—Wilde did return to Amercia in Agust 1883 for a month to oversee the production of his first play, but he did not lecture.

    For more of Wilde and America see:


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