Ha-ha-ha! “We don’t bear you malice, but stay at the Palace!”
“Oscar Wilde’s Last Stand” is very interesting as well as an object lesson for journalists: If your big story hinges on someone who is unhinged, you might want to get a couple of other sources, who are … what’s the word … sane.
A major scandal of 1918 was the Pemberton-Billing libel case. In February 1918 Maud Allan, an expressive and sensuous dancer, presented her version of Wilde’s ‘Salome’ to a select audience. Noel Pemberton-Billing fumed about her in his paper, The Imperialist, suggesting that she was a lesbian, and that her audience was packed with the sexual perverts who were Germany’s fifth column in Britain. This was particularly controversial, since that audience included leading figures like Margot Asquith, wife of the previous Prime Minister.
Maud Allan sued and lost.
What I didn’t know until I visited Madame Eulalie’s terrific website was that when Maud Allan’s seductive dancing had come under fire from the puritans of the Manchester Watch Committee back in 1908, the young P. G. Wodehouse had written a poem about her:
(With acknowledgements to the gifted writer of the Gaiety lyric of the same name and to the…
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