Oscar Wilde is Released From Prison

Upon his release, Oscar wrote “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” a response to the agony he experienced in prison.

It was published shortly before Constance's death in 1898. He and Bosie reunited briefly, but Oscar mostly spent the last three years of his life wandering Europe, staying with friends and living in cheap hotels.

It is largely, if not completely, thanks to the efforts of Robert Ross, literary executor and longtime friend of Oscar Wilde's, that readers for Wilde's works appeared early in the twentieth century. It was Ross who was responsible for the recirculation and reprinting of Wilde's works after Wilde's death in 1900. But Ross's reclamation project really began as early as Oscar Wilde's May 1897 release from his two-year prison term, which he started serving at Pentonville, continued at Wandsworth, and finished at Reading Gaol. In September 1897, Wilde solicited Ross's help in publishing The Ballad of Reading Gaol, the "long poem" Wilde wrote during the summer after his release; its publication and plans for distribution occupied Wilde and his friends for most of the rest of the year. Ross wrote several letters to Leonard Smithers, the London publisher and mutual friend of Ross's and Wilde's who undertook to print and sell The Ballad of Reading Gaol.