These seven pages to ‘My Dear Cook’ are thought to have been penned in early 1877 to Edward Tyas Cook (1857-1919), a journalist who worked at the Pall Mall Gazette. Wilde had submitted a review of Joseph Skipsey’s Carols from the Coal Fields to the Gazette around this time – something he promises in this letter ‘on Monday’.
Written on Castle Hotel, Windsor, notepaper, Wilde begins “I was very much pleased with the article. it was exceedingly fair and the whole tone of it right. I think however that the rule about inverted commas is a little strict.
“For instance: in Roden Noel’s book there occurs this amazing sentence. “I know not any artist of note, unless it be Edgar Poe, Lytton, Disraeli, Mr Alfred Austin whom we may affiliate on Byron”!!! I quote it as follows… ‘that Edgar Poe, Disraeli and Mr Alfred Austin are “artists of note whom we may affiliate on Byron”. I have removed the inverted commas in my proof – but I think they might have stood.”
The letter, which came for sale from the estate of theatre designer Peter Farley, had been estimated at £2000-3000. The price was among the highest for a Wilde letter, particularly one that does not mention one of his plays.