Queensberry Rules

Lady Augusta Bracknell: “You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter- a girl brought up with the utmost care- to marry into a cloak-room, and form an alliance with a parcel? Good morning, Mr. Worthing!”

From: The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People, a play by Oscar Wilde first performed on 14 February 1895 at the St James’s Theatre, King St, London. The successful opening night marked the climax of Wilde’s career but also heralded his downfall. The Marquess of Queensberry, whose son Lord Alfred Douglas was Wilde’s lover, planned to present the writer with a bouquet of rotten vegetables and disrupt the show. Wilde was tipped off and Queensberry was refused admission. Their feud came to a climax in court…

Arthur Ransome wrote of the play that, of Wilde’s society plays, it is the only one that produces “that peculiar exhilaration of the spirit by which we recognise the beautiful….It is precisely because it is consistently trivial that it is not ugly.”

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