For 15 years in Victorian England, Oscar Wilde was able to carry on like the famous camp queen of our imaginings - effete, leisured, aesthetic, amoral, decadent, dandified. This work explores how Wilde was seen before the trials that ended his career and made him the most famous queer man since Socrates. In particular, it examines the concept of effeminacy and asks how Wilde's effeminacy was perceived.;In examining these points, Sinfield ranges over issues of identity, subculture, race, style, masculinity, homophobia, genetics and gender-bending. He broaches the thesis that the Wilde trials bring into focus a particular image of the queer man which has extended into the 20th century, and that our stereotypical notion of male homosexuality derives from Wilde and our ideas about him.;Sinfield assesses the strategic options for lesbian and gay subcultures today. This provocative book aspires to set the agenda for a gay cultural politics - a hundred years after the Wilde trials, on the threshold of the 21st century.