A glimpse of lost London – before the yuppie invasion

In a 1923 book called Echo de Paris, the writer Laurence Houseman attempted to conjure up in a very slim, elegant volume the atmosphere and especially the conversation of an afternoon a quarter century earlier that he had spent in the company of the exiled Oscar Wilde. It was a conscious act of imaginative recreation, seeking to place the reader at the same boulevard table alongside the participants. As the author explained in his introduction: The scene, as regards its setting — the outside of a Paris restaurant — is true to history; and if, toward the end, a touch of drama has been introduced, the reader will understand that