Oscar Wilde's Last Stand by Philip Hoare is a 250-page hardcover published by Arcade Publishing, New York. Stated first North American edition of 1998. The dust jacket shows rubbing and no-show dampstaining to the lower edge. Inside, the book is clean and unmarked and the binding is tight and straight.
In the spring of 1918 in London, an extraordinary trial took place, a trial that was as much a reflection of the passions and paranoias of its day as the Dreyfus court-martial, the Scopes trial, the Lindberg kidnapping case, the McCarthy hearings, the O.J. Circus were of theirs. It was called the Billing trial. And in the witness stand, eighteen years after his death, was Oscar Wilde.
The Billing trial's beginnings can be traced to the moment British authorities finally permitted a staging of Wilde's play Salome. American beauty Maud Allan was to dance the lead. Allan, whose daring performances were popular among afficionados of the exotic and the risque, had danced the part of Salome elsewhere, but a production of this remnant of fin de siecle eroticism in wartime England was not greeted with universal approval. So outraged was Noel Pemberton Billing, a member of Parliament and self-appointed guardian of family values, that he denounced Allan in the right-wing newspaper Vigilante as a member of the "Cult of the Clitoris." Billing was convinced that the "Cult of Wilde"--a catchall doe anyone guilty of degeneracy and perversion, in his eyes--had infected the land.
Maud Allan sued billing for libel, and the trial that followed held the world in thrall...