5 April 1895: Oscar Wilde [above] the great Irish novelist, playwright and wit, was arrested at the Cadogan Hotel, London, on suspicion of homosexual offences with Lord Alfred Douglas, son of the 8th Marquis of Queensbury. In Room 118 he was arrested after spending time with his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, affectionately known as 'Bosie'. Lord Alfred's father, the Marquess of Queensberry, had suspected Wilde and his own son to be in an illicit relationship, and he challenged Wilde with a scribbled accusation of 'Somdomy' (sic).
Oscar Wilde knew that the arrest was coming, and ignored friends' pleas for him to flee the country. The Poet Laureate John Betjeman took up the tragic tale in his poem "The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at The Cadogan Hotel":
A thump, and a murmur of voices--
(Oh, why must they make such a din?)
As the door of the bedroom swung open
And TWO PLAINCLOTHES POLICEMEN came in:
"Mr. Woilde, we 'ave come for tew take yew
Where felons and criminals dwell:
We must ask yew tew leave with us quietly
For this is the Cadogan Hotel.
The Hotel is still a going concern and is situated on Sloane Street, the famous Belgravia thoroughfare connecting the well-heeled districts of Chelsea and Knightsbridge in the City of London.
Wilde’s arrest on these charges marked the begining of his downfall and his social ostrastication by Society. In just over five years he would be dead, an exile living in poverty and a social outcast.