David Matthews is a writer whose work has appeared in The Sunday Times, The Mail on Sunday and the Observer, and on the BBC and Channel 4. He is the author of several books, including Voices of the Windrush Generation. Follow him on Twitter @mrdavematthews.
One of the worst literary cliches in the book is quoting some dead white man as an opening gambit – just to show your opponents how clever you are. As Oscar Wilde wrote: “I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.”
But jokes aside, while no one really reads Wilde’s aphoristic Hallmark scribblings beyond the odd line or two, one has to admire his dramatis personae of foes, notched up over a ‘complicated’ adult life that saw him come to metaphorical blows with the novelist Henry James, the painter James Whistler and tragically the Marquess of Queensbury, father of his homosexual lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, whose indiscretion ultimately led to Wilde landing a two-year jail term with hard labour following a conviction for ‘gross indecency’ and sodomy.