Literary Hub

Take a Look at Oscar Wilde’s Handwritten Edits to The Picture of Dorian Gray

This year, SP Books is publishing the original manuscript of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, originally submitted for publication in Lippincott’s Magazine in 1890. Merlin Holland, Oscar Wilde’s grandson, worked closely with the publishers to decipher the handwriting and text in several pages of the manuscript and compare them to the final published version.

Wilde’s revisions in this original manuscript seem to show the writer self-censoring phrases that could be seen as homoerotic, according to SP Books, which lists several examples:

Basil Hallward’s use of the word “beauty” in reference to Dorian Gray is, for example, replaced by the softer “good looks.” The word “passion” becomes “feeling,” “boy” is replaced by “lad.” Passages are also crossed out, such as Basil’s confession: “The world becomes young to me when I hold [Dorian Gray’s] hand.”

In a foreword to the manuscript, Holland writes that the version that Lippincott’s published—after editor J.M. Stoddart removed additional passages—still provoked backlash, with one critic writing that it was “written ‘for outlawed noblemen and perverted telegraph boys.'”

Page one of the original manuscript

Transcription of page one of the manuscript

Page 17 of the original manuscript

Transcription of page 17 of the manuscript

Page 20 of the original manuscript

Transcription of page 20 of the manuscript

Page 147 of the original manuscript

Transcription of page 147 of the manuscript

More from Literary Hub

Literary Hub6 min read
Indigenous Forest Defenders Around the World Are Dying Anonymous Deaths
One fall evening, I was driving through Wisconsin’s soya fields, drifting along in the half dark, listening to the BBC World Service, when a voice emerged from the ether to galvanize my attention. The voice started strongly in Spanish then faded as t
Literary Hub4 min read
K Chess: Imagining a Radically Different 20th Century That Might Have Been
Famous Men Who Never Lived is set in two Brooklyns. In one, people ride in trams; in the other, they take subways. In one, the swastika is a symbol of luck; in the other, it signifies hate. In one, science fiction is literature; in the other, it’s co
Literary Hub22 min read
Nationalism, Exclusionary Politics, and the Fate of Kashmir Under Modi’s India
In this episode, journalists Rohini Mohan and Praveen Donthi talk to Fiction/Non/Fiction podcast co-hosts V.V. Ganeshananthan and Whitney Terrell about the recent widespread protests in India over the Modi government’s Citizenship Amendment Act and w