Behind every great man ...? by Coralie Kinahan

By Coralie Kinahan

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The Wildes dwelled in their Tite Street Eden until a snake, Lord Alfred Douglas, nicknamed Bosie, entered their garden. He was a beautiful aristocrat (he coined the phrase “the love that dare not speak its name”) who could twist Wilde around his bejeweled finger—and quickly did. Douglas was also a practicing homosexual, and he chose to practice with Wilde, who proved to be quite open to the opportunity. Post Bosie, Wilde’s two hit plays, The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband, took on ironic overtones.

Jenny had hoped her brilliant husband would secure a niche as a philosophy professor; however, his voluble social advocacy made this impossible. He raged against a world where royals lived in splendor and the masses were duped into accepting their lot through the anesthetic of religion. He espoused his theories as a journalist for a Parisian newspaper, and they became friends of Heinrich Heine, the famed poet who waxed eloquent on Jenny’s considerable charms. Unfortunately, Marx never honored a deadline and was dismissed from his post.

Constance, eventually forced from denial, confided to a friend, “I know that the one I am jealous of fills a place I cannot fill,” and determined to continue her marriage; although it was devoid of sex, it still possessed love. ” Bosie convinced Wilde to press a charge of libel against his despised father. The problem? Wilde was guilty of the accusation, and in London’s high society, it was an open secret. The trial was sensational, involving the peerage, the celebrity playwright, and rent boys (male prostitutes).

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