Bosie's Love Letters Point to Cover-Up in Oscar Wilde Trial

By Jones, Liane | The Independent on Sunday (London, England), March 27, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Bosie's Love Letters Point to Cover-Up in Oscar Wilde Trial


Jones, Liane, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)


The playwright's lover was having another relationship. Liane Jones reports

Newly discovered personal letters written by Lord Alfred Douglas, better known to many as Oscar Wilde's lover "Bosie", are causing a stir among scholars and shedding new light on an establishment cover- up.

The letters reveal the passionate relationship between Bosie and Maurice Schwabe, a fellow member of Wilde's circle: "I send you all my love and millions of kisses all over your beautiful body." They lay undisturbed for decades in the archives of the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney and were put on public display for the first time earlier this month, to coincide with the 2011 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

They were written in 1893, even as Wilde was being blackmailed by a young man named Alfred Wood. In Victorian England, despite homosexuality being illegal, there existed a thriving subculture of brothels and rent boys. Wood, whose services were used by Wilde and Bosie, stole love letters written by the former to the latter and later testified against Wilde in court to devastating effect. Neither Bosie nor Schwabe was prosecuted, even though a witness testified he had seen Schwabe and Wilde in bed together in Paris.

At the time of Wilde's libel case against Bosie's father, the Marquess of Queensberry, and subsequent trial for indecency in 1895, there were rumours of a cover-up: Bosie was the son of the infamous peer who started the whole process of discrediting Wilde; Schwabe was the nephew of Sir Frank Lockwood, the solicitor-general.

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