In the following letter Oscar Wilde addresses Lord Alfred Douglas, his former lover. Later, Douglas’s father, the Marquess of Queensbury, would bring Wilde to court after finding out about the relationship. Charged with “gross indecency,” Wilde spent two years in prison, partially on account of the homoerotic undertones of The Picture of Dorian Gray. The ex-lovers would come to launch stinging blows at each other only a few years after the writing of this letter. Wilde compared Douglas to a bored pet lion-cub, while Douglas called Wilde “the greatest force of evil that has appeared in Europe for the last 350 years.”
To Lord Alfred Douglas
[20 December 1893]
10 & 11 St. James’s Place, London SW
My dearest Boy, Thanks for your letter. I am overwhelmed by the wings of vulture creditors, and out of sorts, but I am happy in the knowledge that we are friends again, and that our love has passed through the shadow and the night of estrangement and sorrow and come out rose-crowned as of old. Let us always be infinitely dear to each other, as indeed we have been always.
I hear Bobbie is in town, lame and bearded! Isn’t it awful? I have not seen him yet. Lesly Thomson has appeared; he is extremely anxious to devote his entire life to me. Tree has written a long apologetic letter. His reasons are so reasonable that I cannot understand them: a cheque is the only argument I recognize. Hare returns to town early next week. I am going to make an effort to induce him to see that my new play is a masterpiece, but I have grave doubts. This is all the news. How horrid news is. I think of you daily, and I am always devotedly yours
From Oscar Wilde: A Life in Letters. Edited by Merlin Holland. Fourth Estate: London, 2003.
A full account of the Wilde-Douglas affair.
The Marquess of Queensbury’s letter to his son with the complete accusation.