The Green Carnation, first published anonymously in 1894, was a scandalous novel by Robert Hichens whose lead characters are closely based on Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas - also known as 'Bosie', whom the author personally knew. It was an instant succès de scandale on both sides of the Atlantic. The book features the characters of 'Esmé Amarinth' (Wilde), and 'Lord Reginald (Reggie) Hastings' (Douglas). The words put in the mouths of the hero and his young friend in the story are mostly gathered from the sayings of their originals. Robert Hichens spent nearly a year "in the company of the men" and was able to accurately recreate the atmosphere and relationship between Oscar and Bosie. The book was withdrawn from circulation in 1895, but by that time the damage had been done. Wilde soon stood three consecutive trials for Gross Indecency and was sentenced to two years at hard labor. The Green Carnation was one of the works used against him by the prosecution.
First Page:THE GREEN CARNATION
New York D. Appleton and Company 1894
Copyright, 1894, by D. Appleton and Company.
He slipped a green carnation into his evening coat, fixed it in its place with a pin, and looked at himself in the glass, the long glass that stood near the window of his London bedroom. The summer evening was so bright that he could see his double clearly, even though it was just upon seven o'clock. There he stood in his favourite and most characteristic attitude, with his left knee slightly bent, and his arms hanging at his sides, gazing, as a woman gazes at herself before she starts for a party. The low and continuous murmur of Piccadilly, like the murmur of a flowing tide on a smooth beach, stole to his ears monotonously, and inclined him insensibly to a certain thoughtfulness. Floating through the curtained window the soft lemon light sparkled on the silver backs of the brushes that lay on the toilet table, on the dressing gown of spun silk that hung from a hook behind the door, on the great mass of gloire de Dijon roses, that dreamed in an ivory white bowl set on the writing table of ruddy brown wood... Continue reading book >>
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