Lord Alfred Douglas

Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas (22 October 1870 – 20 March 1945), nicknamed Bosie, was a British author, poet, translator, and political commentator, better known as the friend and lover of Oscar Wilde. Much of his early poetry was Uranian in theme, though he tended, later in life, to distance himself from both Wilde's influence and his own role as a Uranian poet. Politically he would describe himself as "a strong Conservative of the 'Diehard' variety".[1]

Lord Alfred Douglas
Alfred Douglas in 1903 (by George Charles Beresford)
Alfred Douglas in 1903
(by George Charles Beresford)
Born22 October 1870
Powick, Worcestershire, England
Died20 March 1945 (aged 74)
Lancing, Sussex, England
Resting placeFriary Church of St Francis and St Anthony, Crawley
EducationWinchester College, Wixenford School
Alma materMagdalen College, Oxford
SpouseOlive Custance (1902–1944)

Early life and background

Douglas was born at Ham Hill House in Powick, Worcestershire, the third son of The Most Hon. The 9th Marquess of Queensberry and his first wife, Sibyl Montgomery. He was his mother's favourite child; she called him Bosie (a derivative of "boysie", as in boy), a nickname which stuck for the rest of his life.[2] His mother successfully sued for divorce in 1887 on the grounds of his father's adultery.[3] The Marquess married Ethel Weeden in 1893 but the marriage was annulled the following year.

Douglas was educated at Wixenford School,[4] Winchester College (1884–88) and Magdalen College, Oxford (1889–93), which he left without obtaining a degree. At Oxford, he edited an undergraduate journal, The Spirit Lamp (1892–3), an activity that intensified the constant conflict between him and his father. Their relationship had always been a strained one and during the Queensberry-Wilde feud, Douglas sided with Wilde, even encouraging Wilde to prosecute the Marquess for libel. In 1893, Douglas had a brief affair with George Ives.

In 1858 his grandfather, the 8th Marquess of Queensberry, had died in what was reported as a shooting accident, but was widely believed to have been suicide.[5][6] In 1862, his widowed grandmother, Lady Queensberry, converted to Roman Catholicism and took her children to live in Paris.[7]

One of his uncles, Lord James Douglas, was deeply attached to his twin sister "Florrie" (Lady Florence Douglas) and was heartbroken when she married a baronet, Sir Alexander Beaumont Churchill Dixie. In 1885, Lord James tried to abduct a young girl, and after that became ever more manic; in 1888, he made a disastrous marriage.[8] Separated from Florrie, James drank himself into a deep depression,[8] and in 1891 committed suicide by cutting his throat.[7] Another of his uncles, Lord Francis Douglas (1847–1865) had died in a climbing accident on the Matterhorn. His uncle Lord Archibald Edward Douglas (1850–1938), on the other hand, became a clergyman.[7][9] Alfred Douglas's aunt, Lord James's twin Lady Florence Dixie (1855–1905), was an author, war correspondent for the Morning Post during the First Boer War, and a feminist.[10] In 1890, she published a novel, Gloriana, or the Revolution of 1900, in which women's suffrage is achieved after a woman posing as a man named Hector D'Estrange is elected to the House of Commons. The character D'Estrange is clearly based on Oscar Wilde.[11]

Relationship with Wilde

Wilde Douglas British Library B20147-85
Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas, May 1893

In 1891, Douglas's cousin Lionel Johnson introduced him to Oscar Wilde; although the playwright was married with two sons, they soon began an affair.[12][13] In 1894, the Robert Hichens novel The Green Carnation was published. Said to be a roman à clef based on the relationship of Wilde and Douglas, it would be one of the texts used against Wilde during his trials in 1895.

Douglas has been described as spoiled, reckless, insolent and extravagant. He would spend money on men and gambling and expected Wilde to contribute to funding his tastes. They often argued and broke up, but would also always reconcile.

Douglas had praised Wilde's play Salome in the Oxford magazine, The Spirit Lamp, of which he was editor (and used as a covert means of gaining acceptance for homosexuality). Wilde had originally written Salomé in French, and in 1893 he commissioned Douglas to translate it into English. Douglas's French was very poor and his translation was highly criticised; for example, a passage that runs "On ne doit regarder que dans les miroirs" ("One should look only in mirrors") he rendered "One must not look at mirrors". Douglas was angered at Wilde's criticism, and claimed that the errors were in fact in Wilde's original play. This led to a hiatus in the relationship and a row between the two men, with angry messages being exchanged and even the involvement of the publisher John Lane and the illustrator Aubrey Beardsley when they themselves objected to Douglas's work. Beardsley complained to Robbie Ross: "For one week the numbers of telegraph and messenger boys who came to the door was simply scandalous". Wilde redid much of the translation himself, but, in a gesture of reconciliation, suggested that Douglas be dedicated as the translator rather than credited, along with him, on the title-page. Accepting this, Douglas, somewhat vainly, likened a dedication to sharing the title-page as "the difference between a tribute of admiration from an artist and a receipt from a tradesman."[14]

In 1894, Douglas came and visited Oscar Wilde in Worthing, much to the consternation of the latter's wife Constance.[15]

On another occasion, while staying with Wilde in Brighton, Douglas fell ill with influenza and was nursed by Wilde, but failed to return the favour when Wilde himself fell ill in consequence. Instead Douglas moved to the Grand Hotel and, on Wilde's 40th birthday, sent him a letter saying that he had charged him the bill. Douglas also gave his old clothes to male prostitutes, but failed to remove from the pockets incriminating letters exchanged between him and Wilde, which were then used for blackmail.[14]

Alfred's father, the Marquess of Queensberry, suspected the liaison to be more than a friendship. He sent his son a letter, attacking him for leaving Oxford without a degree and failing to take up a proper career. He threatened to "disown [Alfred] and stop all money supplies". Alfred responded with a telegram stating: "What a funny little man you are".

Queensberry's next letter threatened his son with a "thrashing" and accused him of being "crazy". He also threatened to "make a public scandal in a way you little dream of" if he continued his relationship with Wilde.

Queensberry was well known for his temper and threatening to beat people with a horsewhip. Alfred sent his father a postcard stating "I detest you" and making it clear that he would take Wilde's side in a fight between him and the Marquess, "with a loaded revolver".

In answer Queensberry wrote to Alfred (whom he addressed as "You miserable creature") that he had divorced Alfred's mother in order not to "run the risk of bringing more creatures into the world like yourself" and that, when Alfred was a baby, "I cried over you the bitterest tears a man ever shed, that I had brought such a creature into the world, and unwittingly committed such a crime... You must be demented".

When Douglas's eldest brother Francis Viscount Drumlanrig died in a suspicious hunting accident in October 1894, rumours circulated that he had been having a homosexual relationship with the Prime Minister, Lord Rosebery, and that the cause of death was suicide. The Marquess of Queensberry thus embarked on a campaign to save his other son, and began a public persecution of Wilde. Wilde had been openly flamboyant, and his actions made the public suspicious even before the trial.[16] He and a minder confronted the playwright in his own home; later, Queensberry planned to throw rotten vegetables at Wilde during the premiere of The Importance of Being Earnest, but, forewarned of this, the playwright was able to deny him access to the theatre.

Queensberry then publicly insulted Wilde by leaving, at the latter's club, a visiting card on which he had written: "For Oscar Wilde posing as a somdomite" (sic). The wording is in dispute – the handwriting is unclear – although Hyde reports it as this. According to Merlin Holland, Wilde's grandson, it is more likely "Posing somdomite," while Queensberry himself claimed it to be "Posing as somdomite". Holland suggests that this wording ("posing [as] ...") would have been easier to defend in court.

The 1895 trials

In response to this card, and with Douglas's avid support, but against the advice of friends such as Robbie Ross, Frank Harris, and George Bernard Shaw, Wilde had Queensberry arrested and charged with criminal libel in a private prosecution, as sodomy was then a criminal offence. According to libel laws of the time, since his authorship of the charge of sodomy was not in question, Queensberry could avoid conviction only by demonstrating in court not only that the charge he had made was factually true, but that there was also some public interest in having made the charge publicly. Edward Carson, Queensberry's lawyer, accordingly portrayed Wilde as a vicious older man who habitually preyed upon naive young boys and, with extravagant gifts and promises of a glamorous lifestyle, seduced them into a life of homosexuality. Several highly suggestive erotic letters that Wilde had written to Douglas were introduced into evidence; Wilde claimed they were works of art. Wilde was closely questioned about the homoerotic themes in The Picture of Dorian Gray and in The Chameleon, a single-issue magazine published by Douglas to which Wilde had contributed his 'Phrases and Philosophies for Use of the Young'.

The calling card in question, labelled Exhibit A in the trial (bottom left corner)

Queensberry's attorney announced in court that he had located several male prostitutes who were to testify that they had had sex with Wilde. Wilde's lawyers advised him that this would make a conviction on the libel charge very unlikely; he then dropped the libel charge, on his lawyers' advice, to avoid further pointless scandal. Without a conviction, the libel law of the time left Wilde liable to pay Queensberry's considerable legal costs, leaving him bankrupt.

Based on the evidence raised during the case, Wilde was arrested the next day and charged with committing criminal sodomy and "gross indecency", a charge only capable of being committed by two men and which covered sexual acts other than sodomy.

Douglas's September 1892 poem "Two Loves" (published in the Oxford magazine The Chameleon in December 1894), which was used against Wilde at the latter's trial, ends with the famous line that refers to homosexuality as the love that dare not speak its name, a quote often falsely attributed to Wilde. Wilde gave an eloquent but counterproductive explanation of the nature of this love on the witness stand. The trial resulted in a hung jury.

In 1895, when during his trials Wilde was released on bail, Douglas's cousin Sholto Johnstone Douglas stood surety for £500 of the bail money.[17] The prosecutor opted to retry the case. Wilde was convicted on 25 May 1895 and sentenced to two years' hard labour, first at Pentonville, then Wandsworth, then famously in Reading Gaol. Douglas was forced into exile in Europe.

While in prison, Wilde wrote Douglas a long and critical letter titled De Profundis, describing exactly what he felt about him, which Wilde was not permitted to send, but which may or may not have been sent to Douglas after Wilde's release: it was given to Robbie Ross, with the instructions to make a copy and send the original to Lord Alfred Douglas. Lord Alfred Douglas later said that he received only a letter from Ross with a few choice quotes, and didn't know there was a letter until it was referenced in a biography of Wilde's that Ross consulted on. Following Wilde's release (on 19 May 1897), the two reunited in August at Rouen, but stayed together only a few months owing to personal differences and the various pressures on them.

Naples and Paris

The meeting in Rouen was disapproved of by the friends and families of both men. During the later part of 1897, Wilde and Douglas lived together in Naples, but because of financial pressures and for other personal reasons, they separated. Wilde spent the remainder of his life primarily in Paris, and Douglas returned to Britain in late 1898.

The period when the two men lived in Naples would later become controversial. Wilde claimed that Douglas had offered a home, but had no funds or ideas. When Douglas eventually did gain funds from his late father's estate, he refused to grant Wilde a permanent allowance, although he did give him occasional handouts. When Wilde died in 1900, he was still bankrupt. Douglas served as chief mourner, although there reportedly was an altercation at the grave between him and Robbie Ross. This struggle developed into a feud[18] which would preview the later litigations between the two former lovers of Wilde.


Lady Alfred Douglas

After Wilde's death, Douglas established a close friendship with Olive Custance, an heiress, poet and bisexual.[19] They married on 4 March 1902. Olive Custance was in a relationship with the writer Natalie Barney when she and Douglas first met.[20] Barney and Douglas eventually became close friends and Barney was even named godmother to their son, Raymond Wilfred Sholto Douglas, born on 17 November 1902.[21]

The marriage was stormy after Douglas became a Roman Catholic in 1911. They separated in 1913, lived together for a time in the 1920s after Olive also converted, and then lived apart after she gave up Catholicism. The health of their only child further strained the marriage, which by the end of the 1920s was all but over, although they never divorced.

Repudiation of Wilde

In 1911, Douglas embraced Roman Catholicism, as Wilde had done earlier. More than a decade after Wilde's death, with the release of suppressed portions of Wilde's De Profundis letter in 1912, Douglas turned against his former friend, whose homosexuality he grew to condemn. He was a defence witness in the libel case brought by Maud Allan against Noel Pemberton Billing in 1918. Billing had accused Allan, who was performing Wilde's play Salome, of being part of a homosexual conspiracy to undermine the war effort.

Douglas also contributed to Billing's journal Vigilante as part of his campaign against Robbie Ross. He had written a poem referring to Margot Asquith "bound with Lesbian fillets" while her husband Herbert, the Prime Minister, gave money to Ross.[22] During the trial he described Wilde as "the greatest force for evil that has appeared in Europe during the last three hundred and fifty years".Douglas added that he intensely regretted having met Wilde, and having helped him with the translation of Salome, which he described as "a most pernicious and abominable piece of work".

Plain English

In 1920 Douglas founded a right-wing, Catholic, and "deeply anti-Jewish"[23] weekly magazine called Plain English, on which he collaborated with Harold Sherwood Spencer, and to begin with Thomas William Hodgson Crosland. It regarded itself as the successor to The Academy, to which Douglas had been a contributing editor. Plain English ran until the end of 1922. Douglas would later admit that its policy was "strongly anti-Semitic".[24]

From August 1920 (issue No 8) Plain English began publishing a long running series of articles called "The Jewish Peril" by Major-General Count Cherep-Spiridovitch the title of which was taken from the fore-title of George Shanks's version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Plain English advertised (from issue 20) The Britons' second edition of Shank's version the Protocols. Douglas challenged the Jewish Guardian, published by the League of British Jews, to take him to court suggesting they would not as they were "well aware of the absolute truth of the allegations which we have made."[25] The magazine would suggest in 1921 that "we need a Klu Klux Klan in this country",[26] but a promotion for Ostara magazine was generally not well received by readers.

Other regular targets of the magazine included David Lloyd George, Alfred Viscount Northcliffe, H. G. Wells, Frank Harris, and Sinn Féin. In December 1920 the magazine would be the first to publish the secret constitution of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

From 25 December 1920 onwards it would begin publishing regularly its most notorious series of articles alleging that a "powerful individual in the Admiralty" had alerted the Germans at the Battle of Jutland that the British had broken their code, and that Winston Churchill had falsified a report in return for a large sum of money from Ernest Cassel who thereby profited; in May 1921 Douglas would also insinuate that Herbert Earl Kitchener had been murdered by the Jews.[27]

Douglas would cease to be editor after issue 67 in 1921 after a row with Spencer.[28] He then produced a short lived, almost identical, rival magazine called Plain Speech in 1921 with Herbert Moore Pim. Its first issue would contain a letter from a correspondent in Germany telling the British about a "Herr Hittler" (as spelt in original) and "The German White Labour Party".

Douglas's view of a Jewish plot was nuanced. In 1920 he would, whilst recognizing "the Jewish Peril", noted that "Christian Charity forbids us to join in wholesale and indiscriminate abuse and vilification of an entire race".[29] In 1921 he would state it was not acceptable to "shift responsibility" onto the Jews.[30] In his Autobiography in 1929 he would write "I feel now that it is ridiculous to make accusations against the Jews, attributing them qualities and methods which are really much more typically English than Jewish", and then indicate the country only had itself to blame if the Jews came in and trampled on it.[31]

The historian Colin Holmes indicated that while "Douglas had been to the forefront of anti-semitism in the early 1920s, he was quite unable to come to terms with the vicious racist anti-semitism in Germany" under the Nazis.[32]

Libel actions

Douglas started his "litigious and libellous career" by obtaining an apology and fifty guineas each from the Oxford and Cambridge university magazines Isis and Cambridge for defamatory references to him in an article on Wilde.[33]

Douglas was either plaintiff or defendant in several trials for civil or criminal libel. In 1913 he was charged with libelling his father-in-law. Also in 1913 he accused Arthur Ransome of libelling him in his book Oscar Wilde: A Critical Study. He saw this trial as a weapon against his enemy Ross, not understanding that Ross would not be called to give evidence. The court found in Ransome's favour and Douglas was bankrupted by the failed libel suit.[34] Ransome did remove the offending passages from the second edition of his book.[35]

In the most noted case, brought by the Crown on Winston Churchill's behalf in 1923, Douglas was found guilty of libelling Churchill and was sentenced to six months in prison. Churchill had been accused as cabinet minister, of falsifying an official report on the Battle of Jutland in 1916 when, although suffering losses, the Royal Navy drove the German battle fleet off the high seas. Churchill was said to have reported that the British navy had in fact, been defeated; the motive was supposed to be that when this news was flashed, the prices of British securities would tumble on the world's stock exchanges, allowing a group of named Jewish financiers to snap them up cheaply. Churchill's reward was a houseful of furniture, valued at £40,000.

The allegations were made by Douglas in his journal Plain English and later at a public meeting in London. A false report of a crushing British naval defeat had indeed been planted in the New York press by German interests but by this time (following the failure of his Dardanelles Campaign), Churchill was not connected with the Admiralty. As the attorney general asserted in court, on Churchill's behalf, there was "no plot, no phoney communiqué, no stock market raid and no present of fine furniture".[36][37]

In 1924, while in prison, Douglas, in an echo of Wilde's composition of De Profundis (Latin for "From the Depths") during his incarceration, wrote his last major poetic work, In Excelsis (In the Highest), which contains 17 cantos. Since the prison authorities would not allow Douglas to take the manuscript with him when he was released, he had to rewrite the work from memory. Douglas maintained that his health never recovered from his harsh prison ordeal, which included sleeping on a plank bed without a mattress.

Later life

Following his incarceration in 1924, Douglas's feelings towards Wilde began to soften. He wrote in Oscar Wilde: A Summing Up that "Sometimes a sin is also a crime (for example, a murder or theft), but this is not the case with homosexuality, any more than with adultery".[38] Throughout the 1930s and until his death Douglas maintained correspondence with many people, including Marie Stopes and George Bernard Shaw. Anthony Wynn wrote the play Bernard and Bosie: A Most Unlikely Friendship based on the letters between Shaw and Douglas. One of Douglas's final public appearances was his well-received lecture to the Royal Society of Literature on 2 September 1943, entitled The Principles of Poetry, which was published in an edition of 1,000 copies. He attacked the poetry of T. S. Eliot and the talk was praised by Arthur Quiller-Couch and Augustus John.[39]

Douglas's only child, Raymond, was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in 1927, at the age of 24 and entered St Andrew's Hospital, a mental institution. He was decertified and discharged after five years but suffered another breakdown and returned to the hospital. In February 1944, when his mother died of a cerebral haemorrhage at the age of 70, Raymond was able to attend her funeral and in June he was again decertified. His conduct rapidly deteriorated and he returned to St Andrew's in November. He stayed there until his death on 10 October 1964. He never married.[40]


Lord Alfred Douglas grave
The grave of Alfred Douglas (and mother) at the Friary Church of St Francis and St Anthony, Crawley, Sussex, pictured in 2013

Douglas died of congestive heart failure in Lancing, Sussex, on 20 March 1945 at the age of 74. He was buried on 23 March at the Franciscan Friary, Crawley, where he is interred alongside his mother, who had died on 31 October 1935 at the age of 91. A single gravestone covers them.[41] The elderly Douglas, living in reduced circumstances in Hove in the 1940s, is mentioned in the diaries of Henry Channon and in the first autobiography of Donald Sinden, who, according to his son Marc Sinden, was one of only two people to attend his funeral.[42][43] He died at the home of Edward and Sheila Colman. The couple were the main beneficiaries in his will, inheriting the copyright to Douglas's work. She endowed a memorial prize at Oxford in Douglas's name for the best Petrarchan sonnet.[44]


Douglas published several volumes of poetry; two books about his relationship with Wilde, Oscar Wilde and Myself (1914, largely ghostwritten by T. W. H. Crosland, the assistant editor of The Academy and later repudiated by Douglas), Oscar Wilde: A Summing Up (1940) and two memoirs, The Autobiography of Lord Alfred Douglas (1929) and Without Apology (1938).

Douglas also was the editor of a literary journal, The Academy, from 1907 to 1910 and during this time he had an affair with artist Romaine Brooks, who was also bisexual (the main love of her life, Natalie Clifford Barney, also had an affair with Wilde's niece Dorothy and even, in 1901, with Douglas's future wife Olive Custance, the year before the couple married). In 1920 he edited and wrote many articles for the political paper Plain English, a journal which he regarded as the 'apple of his eye'.[45]

There are six biographies of Douglas. The earlier ones by Braybrooke and Freeman were not allowed to quote from Douglas's copyright work and De Profundis was unpublished. Later biographies were by Rupert Croft-Cooke, H. Montgomery Hyde (who also wrote about Wilde), Douglas Murray (who describes Braybrooke's biography as "a rehash and exaggeration of Douglas's book" [his autobiography]). The most recent is Alfred Douglas: A Poet's Life and His Finest Work by Caspar Wintermans in 2007.


  • Poems (1896)
  • Tails with a Twist 'by a Belgian Hare' (1898)
  • The City of the Soul (1899)
  • The Duke of Berwick (1899)
  • The Placid Pug (1906)
  • The Pongo Papers and the Duke of Berwick (1907)
  • Sonnets (1909)
  • The Collected Poems of Lord Alfred Douglas (1919)
  • In Excelsis (1924)
  • The Complete Poems of Lord Alfred Douglas (1928)
  • Sonnets (1935)
  • Lyrics (1935)
  • The Sonnets of Lord Alfred Douglas (1943)


  • Oscar Wilde and Myself (1914) (ghost-written by T. W. H. Crosland[46])
  • Foreword to New Preface to the 'Life and Confessions of Oscar Wilde' by Frank Harris (1925)
  • Introduction to Songs of Cell by Horatio Bottomley (1928)
  • The Autobiography of Lord Alfred Douglas (1929; 2nd ed. 1931)
  • My Friendship with Oscar Wilde (1932; retitled American version of his memoir)
  • The True History of Shakespeare's Sonnets (1933)
  • Introduction to The Pantomime Man by Richard Middleton (1933)
  • Preface to Bernard Shaw, Frank Harris, and Oscar Wilde by Robert Harborough Sherard (1937)
  • Without Apology (1938)
  • Preface to Oscar Wilde: A Play by Leslie Stokes and Sewell Stokes (1938)
  • Introduction to Brighton Aquatints by John Piper (1939)
  • Ireland and the War Against Hitler (1940)
  • Oscar Wilde: A Summing Up (1940)
  • Introduction to Oscar Wilde and the Yellow Nineties by Frances Winwar (1941)
  • The Principles of Poetry (1943)
  • Preface to Wartime Harvest by Marie Carmichael Stopes (1944)

On film

In the films Oscar Wilde and The Trials of Oscar Wilde, both released in 1960, Douglas was portrayed by John Neville and John Fraser respectively. In the 1997 British film Wilde, Douglas was portrayed by Jude Law. In the 2018 film The Happy Prince, he is portrayed by Colin Morgan.

In the BBC drama Oscar (1985) he was portrayed by Robin Lermitte (credited as Robin McCallum), Michael Gambon played Oscar.


  1. ^ The Autobiography of Lord Alfred Douglas (1929) p220
  2. ^ "Douglas, Lord Alfred Bruce (1870–1945)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/32869. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ "The Queensberry Divorce Case", The Times, 24 January 1887, p. 4
  4. ^ Rupert Croft-Cooke, Bosie: The Story of Lord Alfred Douglas, His Friends and Enemies (1963), p. 33
  5. ^ Linda Stratmann, The Marquess of Queensberry: Wilde's Nemesis, Yale University Press 2013 p.25
  6. ^ Neil McKenna, The Secret Life Of Oscar Wilde, Random House 2011 p.427
  7. ^ a b c Lady Florence Dixie Archived 20 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine at Spartacus-Educational.com (accessed 26 February 2019)
  8. ^ a b Douglas, Murray, Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas, Chapter One online at nytimes.com (accessed 8 March 2008)
  9. ^ G.E. Cokayne et al., eds., The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new edition, 13 volumes in 14 (1910–1959; new edition, 2000), volume X, page 694
  10. ^ Dixie, Lady Florence, poet, novelist, writer; explorer and a keen champion of Woman's Rights in Who Was Who online at 7345683 at xreferplus.com (subscription required), accessed 11 March 2008
  11. ^ Heilmann, Ann, Wilde's New Women: the New Woman on Wilde in Uwe Böker, Richard Corballis, Julie A. Hibbard, The Importance of Reinventing Oscar: Versions of Wilde During the Last 100 Years (Rodopi, 2002) pp. 135–147, in particular p. 139
  12. ^ H. Montgomery Hyde, The Love That Dared not Speak its Name; p.144
  13. ^ Ellmann (1988:98)
  14. ^ a b Oscar Wilde by Richard Ellman, published in 1987
  15. ^ Antony Edmunds, Oscar Wilde's Scandalous Summer; p.26 [1] Archived 28 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Ellmann (1988:101)
  17. ^ Borland, Maureen, Wilde's Devoted Friend: A Life of Robert Ross, 1869–1918 (Lennard Publishing, 1990) p. 206 at books.google.com, accessed 22 January 2009
  18. ^ World Review. E. Hulton. 1970.
  19. ^ Parker, Sarah (September 2011). "'A Girl's Love': Lord Alfred Douglas as Homoerotic Muse in the Poetry of Olive Custance". Women: A Cultural Review. 22 (2–3): 220–240. doi:10.1080/09574042.2011.585045.
  20. ^ Parker, Sarah (2013). The lesbian muse and poetic identity, 1889-1930. London: Pickering & Chatto. pp. 71–100. ISBN 978-1848933866.
  21. ^ Adams, Jad (2018). "Olive Custance: A Poet Crossing Boundaries". English Literature in Transition. 61 (1): 35–65.
  22. ^ Philip Hoare. (1999). Oscar Wilde’s Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy, and the Most Outrageous Trial of the Century. Arcade Publishing, p. 110.
  23. ^ Toczek, Nick Haters, Baiters and Would-Be Dictators: Anti-Semitism and the UK Far Right Routledge (2016) p239
  24. ^ The Autobiography of Lord Alfred Douglas (1929) p302
  25. ^ The "Jewish Guardian" Again, Plain English No 21, 27 November 1920
  26. ^ Lies, Plain English No 66, 8 October 1921
  27. ^ Heathorn, Stephen Haig and Kitchener in Twentieth-Century Britain: Remembrance, Representation and Appropriation Routledge (2016) pp. 68–72.
  28. ^ Toczek, Nick Haters, Baiters and Would-Be Dictators: Anti-Semitism and the UK Far Right Routledge (2016) p. 34
  29. ^ Christian Charity and the Jews, Plain English No. 4, 31 July 1920, p. 78
  30. ^ "The Jews, 'The Britons' and the 'Morning Post'", Plain Speech No. 10, 24 December 1921, p. 149
  31. ^ The Autobiography of Lord Alfred Douglas (1929) pp. 303–304
  32. ^ Holmes, Colin Anti-Semitism in British Society, 1876–1939 Routledge (1979)p. 218
  33. ^ (Murray p 152)
  34. ^ The Edinburgh Gazette Publication date:17 January 1913 Issue: 12530, Page 77
  35. ^ Ransome, Arthur, Oscar Wilde: A Critical Study, 2nd edition, Methuen, 1913
  36. ^ http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,727630,00.html accessed 10/2/2017
  37. ^ http://www.jta.org/1923/12/13/archive/churchill-wins-libel-suit-against-douglas accessed 10/2/2017
  38. ^ (Murray pp 309–310)
  39. ^ (Murray pp 318–319)
  40. ^ "Timeline to the Life of Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas" anthonywynn.com Retrieved 24 August 2011
  41. ^ Bastable, Roger (1983). Crawley: A Pictorial History. Chichester: Phillimore & Co. §147. ISBN 978-0-85033-503-3.
  42. ^ Libby Purvis interviews Freddie Fox. The Times Page 8. 17 January 2013
  43. ^ "Sir Donald Sinden: Legendary actor dies aged 90". BBC News. 12 Sep 2014. Retrieved 12 Sep 2014.
  44. ^ A. N. Wilson in The Telegraph 26 November 2001
  45. ^ Brown, William Sorley The Life and Genius of T.W.H. Crosland (1928) p394
  46. ^ Jonathan Fryer (2000). Robbie Ross: Oscar Wilde's Devoted Friend. Carrol & Graf, New York and Constable & Robinson, London. p. 224. ISBN 978-0-7867-0781-2.


  • Braybrooke, Patrick. Lord Alfred Douglas: His Life and Work (1931)
  • Ellmann, Richard (1988). Oscar Wilde. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-394-75984-5.
  • Freeman, William. Lord Alfred Douglas: Spoilt Child of Genius (1948)
  • Queensberry, Marquess of [Francis Douglas] and Percy Colson. Oscar Wilde and the Black Douglas (1949)
  • Croft-Cooke, Rupert. Bosie: Lord Alfred Douglas, His Friends and Enemies (1963)
  • Roberts, Brian. The Mad Bad Line: The Family of Lord Alfred Douglas (1981)
  • Hyde, Mary, ed. Bernard Shaw and Alfred Douglas: A Correspondence (1982)
  • Hyde, H. Montgomery. Lord Alfred Douglas: A Biography (1985) ISBN 0-413-50790-4
  • Murray, Douglas. Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas (2000) ISBN 0-340-76771-5
  • Fisher, Trevor. Oscar and Bosie: A Fatal Passion (2002) ISBN 0-7509-2459-4
  • Fleming, Justin. The Cobra, a play, published by Xlibris in Coup d'État & Other Plays (2004) by Justin Fleming
  • Michael Matthew Kaylor, Secreted Desires: The Major Uranians: Hopkins, Pater and Wilde (2006), a 500-page scholarly volume that considers the Victorian writers of Uranian poetry and prose, such as Douglas
  • Smith, Timothy d'Arch. Love in Earnest. Some Notes on the Lives and Writings of English 'Uranian' Poets from 1889 to 1930. (1970) ISBN 0-7100-6730-5
  • Wintermans, Caspar. Alfred Douglas: A Poet's Life and His Finest Work (2007) ISBN 978-0-7206-1270-7
  • Whittington-Egan, Molly. "Such White Lilies: Frank Miles & Oscar Wilde" Rivendale Press Jan. 2008

External links

De Profundis (letter)

De Profundis (Latin: "from the depths") is a letter written by Oscar Wilde during his imprisonment in Reading Gaol, to "Bosie" (Lord Alfred Douglas).

In its first half Wilde recounts their previous relationship and extravagant lifestyle which eventually led to Wilde's conviction and imprisonment for gross indecency. He indicts both Lord Alfred's vanity and his own weakness in acceding to those wishes. In the second half, Wilde charts his spiritual development in prison and identification with Jesus Christ, whom he characterises as a romantic, individualist artist. The letter began "Dear Bosie" and ended "Your Affectionate Friend".

Wilde wrote the letter between January and March 1897, close to the end of his imprisonment. Contact had lapsed between Douglas and Wilde and the latter had suffered from his close supervision, physical labour, and emotional isolation. Nelson, the new prison governor, thought that writing might be more cathartic than prison labour. He was not allowed to send the long letter which he was allowed to write "for medicinal purposes"; each page was taken away when completed, and only at the end could he read it over and make revisions. Nelson gave the long letter to him on his release on 18 May 1897.Wilde entrusted the manuscript to the journalist Robert Ross (another former lover, loyal friend, and rival to "Bosie"). Ross published the letter in 1905, five years after Wilde's death, giving it the title "De Profundis" from Psalm 130. It was an incomplete version, excised of its autobiographical elements and references to the Queensberry family; various editions gave more text until in 1962 the complete and correct version appeared in a volume of Wilde's letters.


Goring-by-Sea is a neighbourhood of the Borough of Worthing in West Sussex, England, about 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Worthing town centre. Since 1929 Goring has been part of the Borough of Worthing.

It is thought that the place-name Goring may mean either 'Gāra's people', or 'people of the wedge-shaped strip of land'. Usually known as "Goring", the "by-Sea" suffix has been added to differentiate it from the village of Goring-on-Thames in Oxfordshire.

The English Martyrs' Catholic Church, dedicated to the English-Catholic Martyrs, has a copy of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted by Gary Bevans. St Mary's, the Anglican parish church, was originally built c. 1100AD as the Church of Our Blessed Ladye of Gorynge, and was rebuilt in 1837 by Decimus Burton.Goring is served by Goring-by-Sea railway station and is thought to have been the inspiration for the name of the character Lord Goring in Oscar Wilde's play An Ideal Husband. Oscar Wilde stayed in a cottage in Goring in the summer of 1893, and in "De Profundis" mentions Goring as a place where he stayed with Lord Alfred Douglas along with Torquay, London and Florence.

The mixed pebble and sand beach is popular for a wide variety of watersports including kitesurfing.

Grand Hotel Quisisana

The Grand Hotel Quisisana is the largest and one of the best known hotels on the island of Capri. It is located in the heart of the old town of Capri, opposite the Hotel Residenza Capri and the Villa Sanfelice, to the south of the Piazza Umberto I. Set in gardens with "sprawling buildings [which] are painted a distinctive yellow and accented with vines," it is also a notable dining venue in the historic centre of Capri. British doctor George Sidney Clark established a sanatorium in 1845, turning it into the Grand Hotel Quisisana in 1861. "Qui si sana" means "here one heals" in Italian.The hotel contains 148 rooms. There are eight conference rooms, one of which can accommodate for up to 500 people. The La Colombaia restaurant serves lunch in the outdoor restaurant next to the pool and serves fresh seafood, pastas and pizzas, chicken dishes and fruits, cheeses and pastries. The Restaurant Quisi indoors serves Italian cuisine for dinner, accompanied by romantic music. It has been cited as one of Italy's finest hotel restaurants.Since 1986, the Grand Hotel has been a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. They say of it, "Surrounded by its own lush park, the Quisisana is a veritable oasis of relaxation. Terraces overlook the sea and gardens, and the traditional, elegantly furnished accommodations – some with whirlpool baths – are the perfect expression of Capri's dolce vita, famous throughout Italy and the world. Movie stars, royalty, politicians and heads of state have all chosen the Quisisana for their vacation on the Island of Capri, confirming the hotel as one of the world's most exclusive resorts." Famous guests of the hotel include Russian writer Maxim Gorky, Russian singer Feodor Chaliapin, Oscar Wilde (together with Lord Alfred Douglas) and Friedrich Alfred Krupp. Other notable guests have been Tom Cruise, Sidney Sheldon, Gianni Agnelli, Claudette Colbert, Jean-Paul Sartre, Gerald Ford, and Sting. After escaping Egypt in 1952, King Farouk I was a guest of the hotel during part of his exile in Italy.

Olive Custance

Olive Eleanor Custance (7 February 1874 – 12 February 1944) was a British poet and wife of Lord Alfred Douglas. She was part of the aesthetic movement of the 1890s, and a contributor to The Yellow Book.

Oscar (TV serial)

Oscar is a British TV serial first transmitted by BBC 2 in March 1985. Michael Gambon portrayed Oscar Wilde while other actors included Robin Lermitte as Lord Alfred Douglas, Tim Hardy as Alfred Taylor, Emily Richard as Constance Wilde and Norman Rodway as the Marquis of Queensberry. The serial concentrated on Wilde's trials and time in prison.

Oscar Wilde (film)

Oscar Wilde is a 1960 biographical film about Oscar Wilde, made by Vantage Films and released by 20th Century Fox.

Oscar Wilde (play)

Oscar Wilde is a 1936 play written by Leslie and Sewell Stokes. It is based on the life of the Irish playwright Oscar Wilde in which Wilde's friend, the controversial author and journalist Frank Harris, appears as a character. The play, which contains much of Wilde's actual writings, starts with Wilde's literary success and his friendship with Lord Alfred Douglas, turns into a courtroom melodrama, and ends with Wilde as a broken alcoholic after two years in prison.

Owing to the play's subject matter it was never granted a licence by the Lord Chamberlain and could, therefore, only be staged in England at a theatre club where membership was required. The play's first production at London's Gate Theatre Studio in 1936 starred Robert Morley as Wilde and was produced by Norman Marshall. Opening on 29 September, the play ran for six weeks and proved to be one of the theatre's most successful productions.

Later in New York in 1938, again with Morley in the title role, the play became a major award-winning success on Broadway at the Fulton Theatre where it opened on 10 October and ran for 247 performances. This success launched Robert Morley's career as a stage actor on both sides of the Atlantic.

Coinciding with the Broadway production there was also a four-week revival in London at the Arts Theatre starring Francis L. Sullivan and produced by Ronald Adam, which opened on 25 October 1938. The play was revived again at the Bolton's Theatre Club, starring Frank Pettingell and directed by Leslie Stokes, in 1948.

The film Oscar Wilde, based on the Stokes brothers' play with Robert Morley in the lead, was released in 1960.

Percy Douglas, 10th Marquess of Queensberry

Percy Sholto Douglas, 10th Marquess of Queensberry (13 October 1868 – 1 August 1920) was a Scottish aristocrat.

Born in Cummertrees, Dumfries, Scotland, he was the second son of John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry and brother of Lord Alfred Douglas, the lover of Oscar Wilde. From the death of his elder brother Francis in 1894 until his father's death in 1900 he was styled Viscount Drumlanrig.

Rhymers' Club

The Rhymers' Club was a group of London-based male poets, founded in 1890 by W. B. Yeats and Ernest Rhys. Originally not much more than a dining club, it produced anthologies of poetry in 1892 and 1894. They met at the London pub ‘Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese’ in Fleet Street and in the 'Domino Room' of the Café Royal.Those who took part also included Ernest Dowson, Lionel Johnson, Francis Thompson, Richard Le Gallienne, John Gray, John Davidson, Edwin J. Ellis, Victor Plarr, Selwyn Image, Lord Alfred Douglas, Arthur Cecil Hillier, John Todhunter, G.A. Greene, Arthur Symons, Ernest Radford, and Thomas William Rolleston. Oscar Wilde attended some meetings that were held in private homes. The group as a whole matched quite closely Yeats' retrospective idea of 'the tragic generation', destined for failure and in many cases early death.

Along with the social element of the Rhymers' Club, they published two volumes of verse. The first, entitled The Book of the Rhymers' Club was published by Elkin Mathews in 1892. The Second Book of the Rhymers' Club appeared two years later in 1894, published by the recently merged Elkin Mathews and John Lane. They had print runs of 450 and 650 respectively. Those of the group appearing in these two volumes were: T.W. Rolleston, John Todhunter, W.B. Yeats, Richard Le Gallienne, Lionel Johnson, Arthur Cecil Hillier, Ernest Dowson, Victor Plarr, Ernest Radford, Arthur Symons, G.A. Greene, Edwin J. Ellis, and Ernest Rhys.

This seemingly dualistic existence of the club (i.e. on one hand meeting informally at the Cheshire Cheese or in private homes; on the other hand producing anthologies of verse) makes determining the club's members rather tricky at times. Indeed, there are certain poets who were known to have attended meetings but never had their verse appear in either of the books. Also, certain poets feature in one book without featuring in the other. What is certain is that all the members were men.By the time Arthur Ransome wrote his Bohemia in London in 1907, the group had already passed into legend: "... the Rhymer's Club used to meet, to drink from tankards, smoke clay pipes, and recite their own poetry". In fact, Ransome's research was less than thorough; the group continued to meet in some form until about 1904.

Salome's Last Dance

Salome's Last Dance is a 1988 film by British film director Ken Russell. Although most of the action is a verbatim performance of Oscar Wilde's 1893 play Salome, which is itself based on a story from the New Testament, there is also a framing narrative written by Russell himself. Wilde (Nickolas Grace) and his lover Lord Alfred Douglas (Douglas Hodge) arrive late on Guy Fawkes Day at their friend's brothel, where they are treated to a surprise staging of Wilde's play, public performances of which have just been banned in England by the Lord Chamberlain's office.

The Academy (periodical)

The Academy was a review of literature and general topics published in London from 1869 to 1902, founded by Charles Appleton.The first issue was published on 9 October 1869 under the title The Academy: A Monthly Record of Literature, Learning, Science, and Art. It was published monthly from October 1869 to January 1871, then semimonthly from February 1871 to 1873, and weekly from 1874 to 1902 under the titles The Academy: A Weekly Review of Literature, Science, and Art and then The Academy: A Weekly Review of Literature and Life. The last issue was number 1549 on 11 January. In January 1902, The Academy merged with the periodical Literature, becoming The Academy and Literature. The merged periodical retained the numbering of The Academy, however, and reverted to the name The Academy in 1905.

Against the prevailing custom of anonymous authorship, The Academy provided the full names of its writers. In its early years, the reviewers included Edmund Gosse, George Saintsbury, and Henry Sidgwick. As a general rule, The Academy did not publish signed reviews. After its purchase by John Morgan Richards in 1896, the periodical published lighter fare under the editorship of Charles Lewis Hind. The editors for The Academy were: Charles Appleton (1869–78), Charles Doble (1878–80), James S. Cotton (1881–96), and C. Lewis Hind (1896–1903, including his editorship of The Academy and Literature). Henry Bradley served as temporary editor for a portion of 1884–85.From 1902 to 1916 the periodical The Academy and Literature had a fairly high turnover in ownership, editorship, and editorial direction. The editors were: C. Lewis Hind (1902–3), William Teignmouth Shore (1903–5), P. Anderson Graham & Assistant Editor Harold Hannyngton Child (1905–6), Lord Alfred Douglas (1907–10), Cecil Cowper (1910–15), Henry Savage (1915), and T. W. H. Crosland (1915–16).The Academy moved from a Liberal to a Conservative position under Lord Alfred Douglas, who was aided by T.W.H. Crosland. "Douglas and Crosland between them succeed in making The Academy the most candid, most readable, and most admirable literary paper in the United Kingdom". In 1909 WHSmith withdrew the magazine for sale and Douglas shortly had to relinquish the editorship.

The magazine closed in 1915. Crosland briefly revived the title as a monthly in 1916 with himself as editor and sole contributor.Between August 1918 and May 1920 a 'dummy' magazine was produced to maintain the right to the title. In 1920 James Conchie bought the title for Lord Alfred Douglas who incorporated it within his magazine Plain English, with which is incorporated The Academy.

The Bad Child's Book of Beasts

The Bad Child's Book of Beasts is an 1896 children's book written by Hilaire Belloc. Illustrated by Basil Temple Blackwood, the superficially naive verses give tongue-in-cheek advice to children. In the book, the animals tend to be sage-like, and the humans dull and self-satisfied. Within the first three months of its publication, The Bad Child's Book of Beasts sold 4,000 copies.Lord Alfred Douglas accused Belloc of plagiarizing his work Tales with a Twist, which, although published two years after The Bad Child's Book of Beasts, was, according to Douglas, written before Belloc's work.The illustrations have also drawn comparison to the works seen in Dr. Seuss books.

The Judas Kiss (play)

The Judas Kiss is a 1998 British play by David Hare, about Oscar Wilde's scandal and disgrace at the hands of his young lover Bosie (Lord Alfred Douglas).

The Letters of Oscar Wilde

The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde is a book that contains over a thousand pages of letters written by Oscar Wilde. Wilde's letters were first published as The Letters of Oscar Wilde in 1963, edited by Rupert Hart-Davis and published by his publishing firm.

Merlin Holland revised the book and included new discoveries in a new edition: The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde by Merlin Holland & Rupert Hart-Davis. It was published in 2000 by Henry Holt and Company LLC, New York (ISBN 0-8050-5915-6) and Fourth Estate, London (ISBN 978-1-85702-781-5).

Merlin Holland, Oscar Wilde's grandson, provides an introduction to the work which describes the purpose of publishing Oscar Wilde's letters. The book contains a timeline of Oscar Wilde's life, includes some of his drawings and his famous letter to his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, known as De Profundis. Expurgated editions of De Profundis had been published by Wilde's literary executor Robbie Ross from 1905, but the 1962 edition published by Rupert Hart-Davis was the first full and correct version, made from the original manuscript in the British Museum.

The Return of A. J. Raffles

The Return of A. J. Raffles, first published in 1975, is an Edwardian comedy play in three acts, written by Graham Greene and based somewhat loosely on E. W. Hornung's characters in The Amateur Cracksman. Set in the late summer of the year 1900, the story revolves around the infamous burglar and cricketer, A. J. Raffles—presumed dead in the Boer War—who returns to Albany where, with his friends Bunny and Lord Alfred Douglas, he plots to rob the Marquess of Queensberry, partly for the money and partly for revenge against the Marquess for his treatment of their friend Oscar Wilde. The robbery takes place at The Marquess' house in Hertfordshire, where Raffles and Bunny are interrupted by the Prince of Wales and a Scotland Yard detective, who discover the Prince's personal letters have also been stolen.

The Trials of Oscar Wilde

The Trials of Oscar Wilde also known as The Man with the Green Carnation and The Green Carnation, is a 1960 British film based on the libel and subsequent criminal cases involving Oscar Wilde and the Marquess of Queensberry. It was written by Allen and Ken Hughes, directed by Hughes, and co-produced by Irving Allen, Albert R. Broccoli and Harold Huth. The screenplay was by Ken Hughes and Montgomery Hyde, based on the play The Stringed Lute by John Furnell. The film was made by Warwick Films and released by United Artists.

It stars Peter Finch as Wilde, Lionel Jeffries as Queensberry, and John Fraser as Bosie (Lord Alfred Douglas) with James Mason, Nigel Patrick, Yvonne Mitchell, Maxine Audley, Paul Rogers and James Booth.

The love that dare not speak its name

The love that dare not speak its name is a phrase from the last line of the poem "Two Loves" by Lord Alfred Douglas, written in September 1892 and published in the Oxford magazine The Chameleon in December 1894. It was mentioned at Oscar Wilde's gross indecency trial and is usually interpreted as a euphemism for homosexuality (although Wilde denied that it was).In Wilde's definition, "the love that dare not speak its name" was:

....such a great affection of an elder for a younger man... such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy...It is that deep, spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect...There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an elder and a younger man, when the elder man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him.

Some authors have suggested that this quotation referred to pederasty rather than to male homosexuality in general.

Wixenford School

Wixenford School, also known as Wixenford Preparatory School and Wixenford-Eversley, was an independent preparatory school for boys near Wokingham, founded in 1869. A feeder school for Eton, after it closed in 1934 its former buildings were taken over by the present-day Ludgrove School.

Short stories
Based on Wilde's
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