De Profundis live

4 Sep 2016

Event times

12:00–16:30 BST

Cost of entry


HM Prison Reading

England, United Kingdom


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Artangel offers a free front row seat for everyone online for the very first reading of Oscar Wilde's De Profundis in Reading Prison.



Writer and performer Neil Bartlett will read Wilde’s 50,000-word letter to his lover and betrayer Lord Alfred Douglas in its entirety. Tickets to attend the event in the prison’s chapel sold out within days, but we are offering the opportunity to watch a live broadcast from a camera placed in the front row.

Watch live here on ArtRabbit or on YouTube by following the video link above. Join the event on Facebook or comment on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram via the hashtag #deprofundis.


In 1895, playwright, writer, and poet Oscar Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labour in prison on his conviction for gross indecency with other men. Most of this time was spent in what is now known as HM Prison Reading.

Enabled to write, but only on one piece of paper at a time, Wilde penned De Profundis, a letter to “Bosie”, his lover and betrayer Lord Alfred Douglas.

A stark departure from Wilde's previously known flamboyant wit and extravagant style, De Profundis – literally “from the depths” – charts the inescapable darkness brought about by bad living conditions and nutrition, hard labour, and emotional isolation. The letter was kept in the prison and never sent, instead returned complete to Wilde at the end of his sentence and left unpublished until after his death.

Neil Bartlett's reading is the first in a series of sold-out performances of this work taking place in the prison where it was originally written. The other readers are Ben Whishaw, Lemn Sissay, Ragnar Kjartansson, Kathryn Hunter, Ralph Fiennes, Colm Tóibín, Maxine Peake, and Patti Smith.


Filmed and broadcast live by Kinura.

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Exhibiting artists

Neil Bartlett

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