Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray
, is widely said to have been rejected by W. H. Smith, but there is no doubt that this did not happen. The letter sent to Wilde by the publisher strongly indicates that W. H. Smith contemplated removing the July issue of Lippincott’s Magazine
, but does not go so far as to say that the bookstore did. This letter is the only evidence, however, that this is not absolute. The refusal to sell is mere speculation. The fact that none of Wilde’s contemporaries mentioned the incident of The Picture of Dorian Gray
that supposedly happened, while the boycott of George Moore’s Esther Waters
, which was much less topical than this one, was widely reported and discussed, provides further evidence that Wilde’s work was not rejected. Given that the censorship of literary works by private enterprises was still topical in the 1890s, it is unbelievable that the rejection of Wilde’s novel would not have been covered by any newspaper. It makes no sense, except to think that such a thing did not exist at all. It is also clear that this was not the case in the 1895 Wilde trial. Wilde’s lawyer argued that the piece was not a social evil because it was sold uninterruptedly, and the other side, which would have liked to take advantage of it in any way, never once touched on the boycott. Therefore, it would be safe to say that W. H. Smith’s refusal to sell did not happen at all.
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