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World

Reading jail toasts former inmate Oscar Wilde

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Opening sequence

World

Reading jail toasts former inmate Oscar Wilde

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COMING UP:Reading jail toasts former inmate Oscar Wilde

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00:00:01
>> Reading jail near London, immortalized in a poem by Oscar Wilde, jailed for two years with hard labor in 1895. His crime, a gay love affair with Lord Alfred Douglas known as Bosie. These portraits of the lovers by Marlene Dumas, among artistic tributes on show at the jail from this weekend.
00:00:20
>> I'm Reuters' reporter Lucy Field, here at Reading jail, which still got such a sense of foreboding. In Oscar Wilde's time this was a place of solitary confinement. The prisoners wore hoods so they couldn't recognize each other. They were addressed only by a number. Here, Oscar Wilde, one of history's great wits, was silenced
00:00:40
>> Here in cell 333, he wrote De Profundis, a 50,000 word essay, a love letter to Bosie.>> In prison, tears are a part of every day.>> Theater director Neil Bartlett is among writers and actors who will perform a reading of the work.>> It's a great opportunity, now the building is open to the public, just for these nine weeks, to come here and speak those words out loud to break that silence once and for all.
00:01:09
>> Ai Weiwei, himself a former political detainee, has penned his own prison letter. Wolfgang Tillmans filmed the restricted few from Reading's barred windows.>> To come here, to be in the actual cell where De Profundis was written, this is as close as you can get. For me it's almost overwhelming.
00:01:31
You really feel what was done to that great, great man.>> Wilde's incarceration dragged from the heights of adulation to the depth of notoriety. After his release, he published the Ballad of Reading Gaol from exile under the pen name C33. Its refrain, each man kills the thing he loves.
00:01:50
Broken, Wilde died months later.