A RING dramatist Oscar Wilde once gave to a friend has been returned to an Oxford University college 17 years after it was stolen.

The 18-carat gold friendship ring was taken from Magdalen College in 2002 and tracked down by Dutch art detective Arthur Brand.

Oscar Wilde was a student at the college and gave the ring to William Ward in 1876.

Prof Sir David Clary, president of the college, said at a presentation he was delighted’ the ring had come home.

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Mr Brand retrieved the ring after learning it could have been taken in the Hatton Garden jewellery raid in 2015.


College bursar Mark Blandford-Baker said: “We’d long given it up as having been melted down.”

Sir David said: “We thought it had disappeared, so it was a surprise when we heard it had been found.

“We could hardly believe it - we’re very grateful to everyone who helped bring the ring back.”

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The college said it believes the ring originally came into its possession when letters written by Mr Ward were donated to it at the end of the 19th century.

Oscar Wilde read Greats (Classics) at the college from 1874 to 1878. He is best known for his plays including The Importance of Being Earnest. Wilde died aged 46 in 1900.