Beg, Steal, and Borrow on Love Island
During July 1899 while in retreat from a sweltering Paris, Oscar Wilde spent some time at a small hotel called L’Ecu on L’Île d’Amour at Chennevières-sur-Marne.
He described the place a “a lovely spot—and island with trees and a little inn” at which he lodged by the river. While there, Oscar found rest, recreation, and even some romance. But it wasn’t all plain sailing.
Wilde was very hard up and in fear of being hounded by the agent of his Paris hotel who wished to settle his unpaid bill. He sent a telegram to his publisher, Leonard Smithers, asking for a loan. He wrote to Frank Harris enquiring if he had any spare cash for a handout. And to make matters worse a scoundrel acquaintance stole money from him before abruptly leaving the resort. Oscar muddled through, though, and by the end of the month he was back in Paris, moving out a hotel he could not afford, and into one that he could—a much more humble abode where he lived and where eventually he died.
As we enter the dog days of this year, here in memory of Oscar’s last real holiday are a few period photographs and postcards of the surroundings of his little love island, to give you a sense of where for one short summer he talked pleasingly to new friends and wrote pleadingly to old.
© John Cooper, 2022