5 April 1895: Oscar Wilde was arrested at the Cadogan Hotel, London, for 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 yewnsurgent
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 was convicted of Gross Indecency with Men (Homosexuality) and sentenced to two years Hard Labour.
Wilde entered prison on 25 May 1895. He served his sentence in Newgate, Pentonville and Wandsworth jails before being moved to Reading Jail to complete his term of imprisonment. While incarcerated he completed a self analysis of his Life - De Profundis - and started a long poem on the prison experience The Ballad of Reading Jail , which rank amongst his finest works.
He was released from prison on 18 May 1897 and sailed immediately for France. He would never return to Britain or to Ireland. He died a broken man in Paris on 30 November 1900. He was eventually interred in the famous La Père Lachaise Cemetery in that City and his final resting place is today the most visited in that vast necropolis.