ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Constance Lloyd, Mrs. Wilde

Updated on March 17, 2018
Tolovaj profile image

Tolovaj is a small publishing house from Slovenia. We are specialized in literature for kids and everything related to it.

Constance Lloyd's portrait by Louis William Designes (oil on canvas, 1882)

Constance Lloyd
Constance Lloyd

Mrs Oscar

Constance Lloyd is the best known as Mrs. Wilde, although many still don't know this literary giant was actually a married man with two sons. Even less know is the fact she was an artist too, for some time heavily included in her husband's work, while he was still building his reputation, helping him to meet interesting people and being open for his experiments in personal life, including a deadly relationship with Bosie Douglas. While she prohibited him to see his sons after the infamous trial with devastating consequences, she still helped him until her premature death at only 39 years of age.

Who was Constance Lloyd, who played so important part in the life of one of the most notorious artists of last centuries?

Drawing of Constance, 1884

Her Early Years

Constance Mary Lloyd was born on Januar 2 1858 in London to the successful English barrister Horace Lloyd and his Irish cousin Adele (Adelaide) Atkinson. She had an older brother Otho. The marriage of her parents was not a happy one and soon after the birth of both kids they started living separately, Horace spending too much on social life in London and Adele trying to spend as much possible time in Ireland with her mother Mary in Dublin.

As we can read in Otho's memoir's Constance's life was very unhappy, mostly due to the mental instability of her mother, leading to many cases of emotional and probably even physical abuse of Constance in her childhood and adolescence years. It seems while her father was still alive, although mostly absent, outbursts of Adele were still somehow under control, but after his death of pulmonary infection soon after her sixteenth birthday, she stayed completely unprotected towards her unpredictable mother's behavior.

Otho who was studying at Bristol and Oxford in those years later described the life of his sister as full of fear. After a while, he still managed to convince his grandfather John Horatio Lloyd to take Constance under his roof and protection. It was also Otho who connect Constance with Oscar, whom he met in Oxford, where they were studying at the same time, but never became very close, until Speranza, Oscar's unconventional mother and Oscar visited the home of Lloyd's to meet Constance's and Otho's aunt from Dublin.

Not Love at First Sight

The meeting between Oscar and Constance in June of 1881, right after his Poems were published, was a meeting of two good-looking youngsters with great love for art and talent for foreign languages. It was not loved at first sight. While Constance with her wavy auburn hair and purplish brown eyes, tall, slim figure and aesthetic taste for cloths definitely looked charming, it was probably her distance which attracted Oscar even more.

To be honest, he was in love with several ladies and even unsuccessfully suited some of them before and after he met Constance. He was also involved in several foggy relationships with young men, already being a regular target of mockery in Punch.

While he obviously made a good impression being already pretty famous, she charmed him as well. Her intelligence, education (fluent in five languages among other things), good manners and a bit of shyness only contributed to her charm. When Oscar and his mother left Lloyd's home he said he thinks he'll marry that girl.

Yet it was still a surprise for the majority of their mutual friends and acquaintances when he later really proposed her and she said yes.

As long as I live you shall be my lover.

— Constance Mary Lloyd

Oscar and Constance, 1892

Trouble in Paradise

Despite her family not being too enthusiastic about Oscar they married after three years of knowing each other on May 29, 1894, at St James' Church in Paddington. It seemed for some time both were very much in love. Oscar was apparently very happy in first two years of marriage praising his love life to his friends and trying to convince them to marry too.

They got two sons (Cyril in 1885 and Vivian in 1886) in first two years of marriage, but after the birth of the second one, the couple became estranged. One of the possible reasons was of gynecological nature although we'll never know what kind of problems she had, they were very likely connected with her death before her 40th birthday.

Oscar started spending most of his nights in hotels, officially working on his literary masterpieces and Constance increasingly participating in some of the fields where she was already active:

  • liberal politics,
  • feminism (she demanded the right for women being able to serve in Parliament), contemporary fashion (she was an advocate of more practical clothing, being a sensation showing in public in split skirt, abandoning tight corsets),
  • translating (early reviews of his work from Dutch, for instance),
  • writing, still occasionally collaborating with Oscar (among her stuff an edited version of The Happy Prince was found after her death).

They also enjoyed decorating their way too expensive home called House Beautiful together.

Constance was definitely involved in his first book of fairy tales and she also wrote a book of stories for kids on her own. The title There was once grandma's stories was published in 1888 by legendary Ernest Nister and is presented in the central part of this article.

Constance also became pretty intensively involved in Theosophy, being part of the rituals of The Golden Dawn.

Cinderella, retold by Mrs Wilde
Cinderella, retold by Mrs Wilde

Her Book of Fairy Tales

After becoming parents they both believed their boys should have an access to the best possible literature for kids and obviously believed they should write some by themselves. There was Once subtitled Grandma's tales was her retelling of famous fairy tales as she remembered being told to her by her granny.

The collection was published at legendary Ernest Nister publishing house and includes such fairy tales as Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Puss in Boots. It was illustrated by John Lawson (1865-1909).

Source

Did she make a right decision?

Should Constance file for a divorce right after the trial against Oscar started?

See results

Constance Wilde's Death

Soon after Oscar's inclination to men became more and more obvious and he even started to bring his lovers to their house which, thanks to their both exquisite taste, became one of the most tastefully decorated homes in England.

When he started an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas in 1891 their marriage was practically over. Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas became fatal for Oscar eventually convincing him to start a trial against Marquess Queensberry and even (unintentionally) helped his opponent to defeat Oscar at court what led to the loss of almost all his property and sending him in prison, where he contracted a serious illness.

When Oscar returned from prison, Constance had already moved to France, changing her boys' surnames to Holland to protect at least some of their privacy. She still loved her husband, trying to help him with some money, but demanding to stay away from his sons.

When he restored a relationship with Bosie, she cut her financial help too. Roughly at the same time, she needed a surgery for no clear reason. Some people believe she had a tumor in her uterus, there's a theory she had an unsuccessful surgical correction of her intimate parts causing urinary problems and some even claim she had an undiagnozed and then almost unknown multiple sclerosis.

There's also a speculation she died of complications from a venereal disease contracted from her husband or of a spinal damage caused by her fall from the stairs (interesting fact: Oscar died after a fall a few ears later too).

Soon after surgery, some kind of infection developed and she started vomiting unable to hold liquids in her body. She died five days later, on April 7, 1898, in Genoa where she is still buried.

Her last known photo (1896)

Can you add something about this fascinating lady?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)