On 30 August 1889, two rising British authors dined at the world-famous Langham Hotel in London. They were Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde, brought together by the American publisher and editor J M Stoddart. He wanted to commission new stories for an English version of his hugely successful magazine Lippincott’s, a literary journal based in Philadelphia.
By the end of the evening, Stoddart had made two major signings. We do not know what was eaten or drunk that evening, but we know the results: Conan Doyle brought Sherlock Holmes to the public’s notice for the second time with The Sign of Four – ensuring the Great Detective’s lasting fame – and Wilde produced his enduring masterpiece The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Surely the event needed celebration. The Society, working in close partnership with the Oscar Wilde Society, the City of Westminster and the Langham, organised a commemorative Westminster green plaque to be mounted on the outside wall of the Langham restaurant where the great dinner took place. It was unveiled at a ceremony on Friday 19 March 2010 by author and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth, whose original idea the plaque had been.
The Society produced a celebratory booklet for the event, Nicholas Utechin writing up the full back story. Gyles Brandreth contributed the Foreword. A Golden Day was published in an edition of 200 and a limited number of copies remain available for purchase by collectors on a first come first serve basis.