UBC acquires rare, gay books with unproven links to Oscar Wilde
Books written in late 1890s purchased thanks to student's fundraising idea
Some of the first published gay-themed novels, with unproven links to Oscar Wilde, are now the property of UBC thanks to one student's crowdfunding campaign.
The late 19th century novels Teleny and its sequel Des Grieux were bought for $16,000 and $22,000 respectively.
"In less than a week I was over halfway to the goal. I wanted to raise around $3000, which I thought would be a very competitive bid," said Justin O'Hearn, who stumbled upon an auction for the books while researching his PhD dissertation in Victorian literature.
Teleny was published in 1893 while Des Grieux was published in 1899. Some believe Oscar Wilde, who did go to prison for homosexual acts, may have helped write the book.
UBC is now the only library in the world where the books have been brought together and scholars can work on them in one place.
"The other copies that are available are either at the British library or they are in private collections. And, it was a huge, huge coup for the library and the university," said Katherine Kalsbeek, the acting head of Rare Books and Special Collections at the UBC Library.
The price of the two books was much more than O'Hearn originally anticipated, which is when the UBC library stepped in with money from a fund earmarked for rare and special acquisitions.
"The hammer price for Teleny was $16,000 Canadian. And, the hammer price for Des Grieux ended up being 22,000," said O'Hearn.