Typescript of unpublished portion of "De Profundis" used in Douglas v. Ransome libel suit

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Typescript of unpublished portion of

Item Info

Item No: rbl0000149
Title: Typescript of unpublished portion of "De Profundis" used in Douglas v. Ransome libel suit
Media Type: Manuscripts
Source: Rare Book Department

Item is marked on rectos only, except a mostly illegible provenance note in an unknown hand on the verso of the final endleaf.


Oscar Wilde worked on two long pieces while in prison for "gross indecency with certain male persons," one a letter to his former lover Lord Alfred Douglas and the other a literary essay. During his writing the texts intermingled, and Wilde sent the single manuscript to Robbie Ross, his literary executor and former lover. Ross edited the manuscript to delete all direct reference to Douglas and published it in 1905 (after Wilde's death) with the title De Profundis. The original manuscript is at the British Library.

This typescript is Ross's carbon copy of some of the unpublished sections of De Profundis. Ross sent it to Sir Henry Alfred McCardie for use in a libel suit filed by Lord Alfred Douglas against the writer Arthur Ransome. In a 1912 critical study of Oscar Wilde, Ransome implied that Douglas was Wilde's lover and the object of his writing, and Douglas immediately sued him for libel. This unpublished carbon copy, annotated by McCardie, was read in open court, entered into public record, and resulted in Douglas losing his libel case.


Literary Manuscripts collection, Free Library of Philadelphia, Rare Book Department.

Creation Year (Single Year or Range Begin): ca. 1913
Creator Name: Wilde, Oscar, 1854-1900 - Author
Ross, Robert B., 1869-1952
McCardie, Mr. Justice (Henry Alfred), 1869-1933 - Author