The Ballad of Reading Gaol By Oscar Wilde Cover Image

The Ballad of Reading Gaol (Paperback)

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"Like two doomed ships that pass in storm

We had crossed each other's way:

But we made no sign, we said no word,

We had no word to say"

-Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898)

The poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898) by Oscar Wilde, was inspired by the two years he spent in the jail of Reading Gaol, England. There he experienced the hanging of Royal Horse Guards trooper Charles Thomas Wooldridge, convicted for the murder of his wife. This poem, dedicated to Wooldridge, describes not only his execution, but is also an indictment of the Victorian penal system and a plea for reform of prison conditions.

This poem, Wilde's last publication, was very successful and assured he had a steady income until his death at a young age in 1900.