THE Oscar Wilde Society has revealed they “wholeheartedly” support the campaign to save Reading Gaol.

Founded in 1990, the non-profit, literary society is devoted to appreciating and studying Wilde’s life, personality and works.

READ MORE: Reading historian calls to save gaol.

Wilde was a successful Irish author and playwright who captivated Britain and America with his words and ideas.

However, in 1895 he was tried and convicted of ‘gross indecency’ at a time when homosexuality was illegal in England.

He served the last 18 months of a two-year prison sentence at Reading Gaol.

READ MORE: ‘We need to preserve and teach our history’ – LGBT community speak out about Reading gaol.

Inside the prison, inmates were treated harshly, and many thought a man of Wilde’s breeding would not survive.

He did and afterwards wrote a poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, which paints a grim picture of life inside the walls inspired by the hanging of a prisoner.

Darcy Sullivan, press officer for The Oscar Wilde Society, explained that Wilde’s incarceration has made the prison one of the most famous in the world.

He said: “It is almost impossible, however, to imagine just what Wilde and his fellow prisoners endured until you have stood in one of the cells.

“People who experience this not only have a strong emotional reaction; they emerge with a better understanding of just how cruelly society would treat a man whose only crime was to love other men.

“We need to give every person the ability to come and see for themselves where Oscar Wilde was imprisoned.”

Currently, proposals to sell the prison to the highest bidder have been made.

Reflecting on this, Mr Sullivan said: “This seems to be the wrong way to dispose of an important British landmark, doesn’t it?”

He added: “It is very easy for society to forget its history — the good and the bad.

“In Great Britain, we preserve our history with blue plaques, listed buildings and other guides to the past.

“Reading Gaol presents a rare opportunity to preserve a site that helps us understand the darker side of our history. Let’s not throw that away."

The society support turning the prison into a museum or place where people can learn about British laws, imprisonment and justice suggesting Wilde’s cell be preserved for future generations.