‘As a gay icon, Wilde is flawed’

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MERLIN HOLLAND is Oscar Wilde’s only grandson and the executor of his literary estate, a position he has held since 1977. A journalist and lecturer, Holland started conducting research on Wilde in the mid-1980’s. His background in industry and commerce preceded a career in academic publishing. At age 63, he is an expert on the life and work of his grandfather. While Holland himself is heterosexual, he remains outspoken against homophobia.

Among the many books on Wilde that Holland has authored or edited are the following: last year’s Oscar Wilde: A Life in Letters (reviewed in these pages in the September-October Issue); The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde (2004), which contains the first uncensored transcript of the events leading up to Wilde’s imprisonment for homosexuality; and The Wilde Album: Public and Private Images of Oscar Wilde (1998). His 2007 book, Coffee with Oscar Wilde (Duncan Baird), is a time-travel biography that brings the witty Irishman to life in a fictional interview. Holland is currently writing a family history covering the century that followed Wilde’s death in 1900.

This interview was conducted by phone late last year.

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