Nigel Havers from THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST Reads from First-Edition Copy of the Oscar Wilde Play

Nigel Havers from THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST Reads from First-Edition Copy of the Oscar Wilde Play

In preparation for his performance in a new production of The Importance of Being Earnest, Nigel Havers gave a complete rendition of the script reading from a specially printed first edition. An audience assembled in room 118 of The Cadogan Hotel, where Oscar Wilde was infamously arrested on the grounds of gross indecency in 1895, to hear Havers' touching and emotional performance. Mary McCartney was present to photograph the event and following the reading the audience retired to the dining room at The Cadogan Hotel for cucumber sandwiches.

The book, which Oscar Wilde personally inscribed and gave to Major James Nelson, the Governor of Reading Gaol during the writer's term of imprisonment there, is estimated at £40,000 - £60,000 and is to be sold at Bonhams Books, Atlases, Manuscripts and Photographs sale in London on Wednesday 18 June. The book is number 13 of 100 special copies published in 1899, the year before Wilde's death. The inscription by Wilde reads "To Major Nelson: from the author. A trivial recognition of a great and noble kindness. Feb, 99." Elsewhere, Wilde was to describe Nelson as: "The most Christlike man I ever met."

The new production of Wilde's brilliant comic masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Lucy Bailey in which Havers stars, will open at the Harold Pinter Theatre on 17 July 2014, with previews from 27 June. Dubbed by Oscar Wilde 'a trivial comedy for serious people' the production takes this sentiment to heart and delivers an entirely faithful, but nonetheless unique, setting to one of the greatest theatrical comedies.


For further information about the book auction at Bonhams contact:

Andrew Currie +44 (0)207 468 5871 | |

For further information about The Importance of Being Earnest at the Harold Pinter Theatre contact:

Jo Allan PR +44 (0)207 520 9392 |


Harold Pinter Theatre, Panton Street, London, SW1Y 4DN

Booking number: 0844 871 7622

Performance times: Monday to Saturday at 7:30pm, Wednesday and Saturday 2:30pm

Dates: 27th June - 20 September 2014

Ticket prices to 19th July: £45, £35, £20 (£15 Day seats).

Ticket prices from 20th July: £55, £45, £30, £15 (£25 Day seats)


Theatre Royal, Bath, Monday 22nd - Saturday 27th September

Theatre Royal Brighton, Monday 29thSeptember - Saturday 4th October

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Monday 6th - Saturday 11th October

Richmond Theatre, Monday 13th - Saturday 18th October

Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, Monday 20th - Saturday 25th October


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is the world's third largest auctioneer of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

Nigel Havers returns to the role of Algernon Moncrieff in The Importance of Being Earnest at the Harold Pinter Theatre from 27 June having previously played the part in Sir Peter Hall's 1982 production of the same play at the National Theatre. His other theatre credits include Art on tour and in the West End, Richard II and Man and Superman for the RSC, as well as the hugely successful touring productions of Rebecca, Alan Bennett's Single Spies and Nick Fisher's Basket Case and several sold-out seasons in pantomime. He is a leading television actor having starred in numerous renowned series including Coronation Street, Don't Wait Up, Brothers and Sisters, Manchild, Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs amongst many more. He has most recently been seen in The Life of Rock with Brian Pern. Film credits include Hugh Hudson's Chariots of Fire, David Lean's A Passage to India, Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun and Claude Chabrol's Quiet Days in Clichy.

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