School of History, Classics & Archaeology

The importance of being Alvin

Professor Alvin Jackson, Richard Lodge Professor of History, has been on television recently and in some interesting company.

HCa Alvin Jackson and Merlin Holland
Professor Alvin Jackson with Merlin Holland, grandson of Oscar Wilde

‘Edward Carson and the fall of Oscar Wilde’ tells the story of the epic clash in the Old Bailey in 1895 between Oscar Wilde – then the most famous man in London – and Edward Carson, then one of the most prominent lawyers in Ireland and England. The two men had been contemporaries in Dublin and fellow students at Trinity College, Dublin but Carson’s cross-examination of Wilde in his action for criminal libel against the Marquis of Queensberry would bring his former friend’s life crashing down around him.

Alvin was sole historical consultant for the BBC programme, presented by Oscar Wilde’s grandson Merlin Holland.

Alvin will also feature in the President of Ireland’s second Machnamh 100 seminar – ‘Empire: Instincts, interests, power and resistance’. Machnamh 100 is an initiative of President Michael D Higgins during Ireland’s Decade of Commemorations, in which the President has examined and explored the context and enduring relevance of seminal events such as the Lockout of 1913, the First World War, The Easter Rising, the Flu Pandemic, the election of 1918 and the first Dáil.

You can watch ‘Edward Carson and the fall of Oscar Wilde’ on BBC iPlayer at

‘Empire: Instincts, interests, power and resistance’ will be broadcast on RTE on 25 February, and you can find more information at