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Encyclopedia > Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories

Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories is collection of short semi-comic mystery stories that was written by Oscar Wilde and published in 1891. It includes: Oscar Wilde Oscar Fingal OFlahertie Wills Wilde (October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900) was an Anglo-Irish playwright, novelist, poet, short story writer and Freemason. ... 1891 (MDCCCXCI) was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ...

  • Lord Arthur Savile's Crime
  • The Canterville Ghost
  • The Sphinx Without a Secret
  • The Model Millionaire
  • The Portrait of Mr. W. H.


Lord Arthur Savile's Crime

In this story, the title character has his palm read and discovers that it is in his future that he will be a murderer. Lord Arthur wants to marry, but decides he cannot until he has gotten the murder out of the way first. Chiromancy or cheiromancy, (Greek cheir, “hand”; manteia, “divination”), is the art of characterization and foretelling the future through the study of the palm, also known as palmistry, palm-reading, or hand analysis. ...

After failing twice, once when his victim died of natural causes before he could kill her and again when his explosive watch made only puff of smoke, he succeeds in pushing the cheiromancer off a bridge. He goes on to marry and live happily ever after, despite it coming to light the palm reader was a complete fraud all along.

The Canterville Ghost

When an American family buys Canterville Chase, they are told by all that the house is haunted by a horrible spirit, but this does not bother them in the slightest. Indeed, when they find a reoccurring blood stain on the floor, and hear creaking chains in the night, and even see the ghost himself, all they do is clean up the blood and insist that the ghost oil his manacles if he is going to keep living there. This perturbs the ghost to no end, and he does everything he can to try to frighten them. A manufactured image of a ghostly woman ascending a staircase A ghost is an alleged non-corporeal manifestation of a dead person (or, rarely, an animal, vehicle). ...

Nothing the ghost does scares the family, though the two twins (who enjoy heckling him) do manage to scare him when they erect a fake ghost for him to find. Seeing him sitting alone and depressed, the daughter pities him and offers her help in trying to get him released from haunting. He takes her to the ghostly realm, where she and Death meet, but this meeting and what goes on during it is not described. She succeeds, and the Canterville Ghost disappears, his skeleton being found where it was chained in a hidden room centuries ago. The family buries him, and the daughter marries a Duke in a ruby necklace the ghost had given her before his release.

The Sphinx Without a Secret

In this very short story, Lord Murchison recounts to his old friend a strange tale of a woman he had loved and intended to marry, but was now dead. She had always been very secretive and mysterious, and he one day followed her to see where she went, discovering her stealthfully going to a boarding house. He suspected there was another man, and confronted her the next day. She confessed to having been there, but said nothing happened. He did not believe her and left; she died some time later. A boarding house is a house (often a family home) in which holiday-makers or lodgers rent one or more rooms for one or more nights, and sometimes for extended periods of weeks, months and years. ...

He went to the boarding house to speak to the owner, and she confirmed she had rented the room and that all the lady ever did was come to it and sit alone for a few hours at a time, reading or doing nothing.

After telling his story, he asks his friend if he believes it--that her secret really was that she had no secret--and his friend said he was certain of it. Lord Murchison ends with the reply: "I wonder."

The Model Millionaire

Hughie Erskine is in love and wants to marry, but the girl's father will not allow it, since Erskine has no money. Erskine's friend is a painter, and he visits him at his studio one day to find him with a pitiable beggar--the model for his painting. Erskine only has one coin, which he depends on for transportation, but he decides he can walk for a couple weeks and gives the beggar the coin.

The beggar is in reality an immensely wealthy baron, having a portrait of himself as a beggar done for fun. He is so impressed by Erskine's generosity that he gives him £10,000, enough so that the girl's father will consent to his proposal. Baron is a specific title of nobility or a more generic feudal qualification. ...

The Portrait of Mr. W. H.

The Portrait of Mr. W. H. is a forgery, made on the orders of Cyril Graham to support his theory as to the true identity of who Shakespeare's Sonnets are addressed to. He theorized that it was impossible Shakespeare was speaking about Lord Pembroke, rather that the sonnets were written to someone very dear to Shakespeare: an actor that was once part of his company and who performed all the lead female roles, an actor whose name Graham had deduced to be Will or Willie Hughes or Hews. This idea Graham extensive supported with analysis of quotes pulled from the sonnets as well as links to the history of theatre in Shakespeare's time. The theory was found by Graham and his friend, Erskine, to whom he confided it, to be perfectly sound and convincing, and a far better explanation than the currently accepted version, but laking one thing: there was no evidence that an actor named Willie Hughes ever existed. Graham set about finding proof that Hughes was real. Shakespeares sonnets comprise a collection of 154 poems in sonnet form that deal with such themes as love, beauty, politics, and mortality. ... William Shakespeare—born April 1564; baptised April 26, 1564; died April 23, 1616 (O.S.), May 3, 1616 (N.S.)—has a reputation as the greatest of all writers in English. ... The Right Honourable William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke KG (April 8, 1580–April 10, 1630) was the son of Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. ... William Hughes is one potential candidate for the Fair Youth of Shakespeares Sonnets. ... It has been suggested that Drama (art form) be merged into this article or section. ...

This he failed at doing, but he needed no convincing. For his friend's sake, however, he had a portrait made of a Mr. W. H. with his hand on a book on which can be seen the dedication from the Shakespeares Sonnets. This was all Erskine needed to accept the theory as truth, but when he discovered it to be a fake, he abandoned it completely. To prove his belief with or without concrete evidence, Graham shot himself.

Erskine later recounted this to his friend, who was so struck by the Willie Hughes theory that he began his own research and further fleshed-out Graham's findings until he was without a doubt that it was true. He presented it to Erskine, but then found himself strangely divested from it and he lost faith in its basis in reality.

Erskine's belief, however, was renewed and he set off at once to try to find any trace of Willie Hughes. But like Graham, he found nothing. His friend maintained that it was because there was nothing to be found--that Hughes never existed. Erskine sent him a letter, in which he told him that the truth was in front of him and, as a sign of complete faith in it, was now twice stained with blood. His friend went to his hotel in Paris and found him dead. The Eiffel Tower, the international symbol of the city, with the skyscrapers of La Défense business district 5 km/ 3 mi behind. ...

He assumed it was suicide, but the doctor told him the real cause was a lingering illness that Erskine had known about for some months, and that he had come to Paris specifically to die. He left his friend the portrait of Mr. W. H.

The portrait now hangs in his home, where many comment on it but he does not tell of its history. He sometimes wonders to himself, however, if it might be true after all.

External links

Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories, available for free via Project Gutenberg Project Gutenberg (often abbreviated as PG) is a volunteer effort to digitize, archive, and distribute cultural works. ...



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