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The Loves Of Oscar Wilde

Updated on December 12, 2010
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was an incredibly talented man, and a welcome guest at all the great social events in Victorian London. He is most famous for his plays and his wit, but also remembered for his imprisonment.

He counted Royalty among his associates, and he was the must have guest for many a social climber. It is sad that such a talented man ended his life in the way that he did.

Even before what is considered to be his first full homosexual relationship with Robbie Ross, Wilde had taken an interest in same sex relationships and got to know Karl-Heinrich Ulrichs the gay rights pioneer. He met and kissed Walt Whitman and had lived with the painter Frank Miles. There is no evidence that either were lovers of Wildes. He he was close to Miles, but Miles was also known to have had many relationships with women, and no other men.

Wilde seemed to struggle at this time with his sexuality, and this may be why he married - hoping to stop the feelings that he had for men.

Constance Wilde (January 2, 1859 – April 7, 1898), was Oscars wife and the mother of his two sons Vyvian and Cyril.

After the birth of their second son, their marriage became virtually platonic. It is more than likely that Constance knew about Robbie Ross and the homosexual relationship he was having with her husband.

Oscar rarely spent the night at home. His sons were too young to understand why Oscar was not at home but they were able to comprehend that their mother was not happy. He found this while chastising his sons about bad boys who made their mother cry and was asked what happened to absent papas who made mamas cry. They remained on good terms until after Oscars trial when Constance changed all their names to Holland to break their association with him.

While Alfred, Lord Douglas is the most famous of Oscars lovers, he was not the first. His name was Robbie Ross and he was a Canadian by birth, but moved to England as an infant following the death of his father. He was openly gay - not the most sensible thing to be if you wanted to get on in Victorian England.

Although younger than Wilde he set out to seduce Oscar in 1886. They remained close and he stood by Wilde when he became involved with Bosie and his fall from grace. 

It was in 1891 that Wilde met Alfred Douglas - known as Bosie. They became involved and soon Wilde was infatuated with the handsome young man. In public Oscar was careful about covering up their intimacy, but the same could not be said of Douglas, who was denied nothing by Wilde. In later years Alfred denies a full sexual relationship with Wilde, but did not deny a degree of intimacy.

Douglas was known in the arena of gay prostitution and it was not long before Wilde was being introduced to a series of young men. The young men Wilde was ending up in hotel rooms with were not the same sort of educated people he was used to dealing with. They did not know who he was or what he did, and soon Wilde was living two separate lives.

Bosies father was suspicious regarding the closeness of his son and Wilde, and for some time, Wilde was able to convince him that there was nothing to worry about,but eventually in 1894 he threatened Wilde as to what he would do if he caught them in public together.

Ross advised Wilde to leave England before the trial, but Wilde refused.It is ironic that Wilde did move to France with Ross when he was released from prison and Ross was there when he died, Wilde did meet up with Bosie before he died,but it is Rosses ashes that are in Wildes tomb. He was there at the beginning of his homosexual life and at the end of his physical one.


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    • profile image

      Linda Nevin 5 years ago

      Although not punishable by imprisonment for being homosexual any more as long as age is respected, many people still live a lie. I picked Dorian Gray for the book club I started and found myself completely absorbed in knowing everything I could about Wilde. Most first time writers/novels don't pick three male characters that are so enamored with each other, told me I needed to know more.

      My son is gay and my brother dies of aids, so I suspected there was much more. Very interesting and and read. Haunting as well. He died much too young.

    • Karonher profile image

      Karonher 6 years ago from Liverpool

      Its sad that Somerset Maugham had to do that - although I did not know he was gay. There must have been so many people who lived a lie.

    • moncrieff profile image

      moncrieff 6 years ago from New York, NY

      It's amazing that the Victorian society considered itself the torch of civilization at the time, yet it was so barbaric when it came to personal relationships.

      But the 1896 trial intimidated many. For example, William Somerset Maugham lived the next 70 years in its shadow, being very quiet about his relationships.