I am currently reading a biography of Oscar Wilde called ‘The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde‘. This biography is different to all the others on Oscar because it focuses on his sexuality. It is really fascinating to read about Uranian [gay] culture in Victorian times, and the antics that Oscar and his boyfriend Bosie got up to. Some of the more interesting points are that before Oscar marrried his wife Constance, he proposed to a young lady called Florence who went on to become Bram Stoker’s wife (the writer of Darcula).
Bosie’s father The Marquis of Queensberry was a horrible man. He discovered that Bosie’s brother, Drumlanrig was in love with (and sleeping with) the Prime Minister, Lord Roseberry by sending a private detective to get evidence (which he got by bribing a maid). With this evidence he wrote to the Prime Minister (whom he absolutely hated) and his son demanding that their antics stop or he will go public with his evidence and create a scandal. Drumlanrig who was a junior minister decided that the best way to placate his homophobic father was to marry a girl and cease his relationship with Drumlanrig. Whilst on a hunting trip with several other ministers including his new fiance’s brother Drumlanrig sadly committed suicide.
I have not finished the book yet, but it is starting to get very interesting because the Marquis of Queensberry is furious about Oscars relationship with his son Bosie and he has evidence on Oscar that he is about to go public with, this evidence is going to send Oscar to jail for ‘gross indecency’. Oscar maintained after he was released that the reason he was made an exaple of was because the Marquis of Queensberry had evidence on other ministers as well.
Another fascinating thing I have learnt is the green carnation worn by Victorian men was a code that you were Uranian. Bosie published details of how to turn white carnations green by placing the stem of the bud in water that has been dyed green a magazine he edited called Spirit Lamp.
All this makes me think how far we have come, and how much things have changed. Mark and I have a legal relationship in NZ, that is also recognized by the UK where Oscar and Bosie lived. I also wonder if Oscar’s writing would have been so fantastic if he could have gotten up to his sexual antics without having to worry about the fear of getting caught or blackmailed.