Hollywood Stars Campaign to Save Jail Where Oscar Wilde Was Detained

New York Post, 2 January 2021
By Isabel Vincent

Three British stars are campaigning to save the jail where Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde was held for being gay in the late 1800s.

Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh and “Game of Thrones” star Natalie Dormer want the Reading Prison, which was built in 1844 and located 40 miles west of London, to be preserved as a center for culture, according to reports.

Wilde was incarcerated at Reading between 1895 and 1897, accused of “gross indecency.” The prison, formerly known as Reading Gaol, was shuttered in 2013, and a bid to sell it to developers fell through in November.

Reading’s local council is hoping to turn the building, which is located in the town center, into an arts venue. In 2016, the empty building was used to host art exhibits, and calls grew to permanently transform the prison into an arts complex, according to the BBC.

Branagh, who spent part of his childhood in Reading, told the BBC that the town “deserves to preserve and transform its world-renowned link with a unique piece of social, political and artistic history.”

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