Open menu


Open menu


Open menu
three pairs of lovers with space



The Irish writer and wit Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) is too well-known to require introduction. One of the most important sources of information on his private life is unsurprisingly his correspondence.  All of it that is known to have survived was collected together and edited by his grandson Merlin Holland and by Rupert Hart-Davis, and was published as The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde by Henry Holt & Co. in New York in 2000.

Presented here is not only every passage of Greek love interest, but, in order to give a fully rounded picture of Wilde’s romantic feelings, every statement by Wilde that can reasonably be said to express eros towards anyone or indicate sexual or romantic involvement with anyone.

 As is also well-known, Wilde was sexually attracted to males and had many sexual liaisons with them. This is one of a series of articles intended on this website which will incidentally show everything known about the age range of those with whom he had liaisons or regarding whom he expressed eros and show it to have been from just 15 to a youthful-looking 21.[1]

To William Ward
  [pp. 27-29]

Wilde w. his closest Oxford friends Reggie Hardingl  Willie Ward c 1876 03
Wilde with his closest Oxford friends Reggie Harding (left) & Willie Ward (centre), March 1876

Sunday [6 August 1876]                                                                         1 Merrion Square North

My dear Bouncer, […]
     I want to ask your opinion on this psychological question. In our friend Todd’s[3] ethical barometer, at what height is his moral quicksilver? Last night I strolled into the theatre about ten o’clock and to my surprise saw Todd and the young Ward the quire boy[4] in a private box together, Todd very much in the background. He saw me so I went round to speak to him for a few minutes. He told me that he and Foster Harter[5] had been fishing in Donegal and that he was going to fish South now. I wonder what young Ward is doing with him. Myself I believe Todd is extremely moral and only mentally spoons the boy, but I think he is foolish to go about with one, if he is bringing this boy about with him.
     You are the only one I would tell about it, as you have a philosophical mind, but don’t tell anyone about it like a good boy – it would do neither us nor Todd any good.
     He (Todd) looked awfully nervous and uncomfortable
     […] Ever yours                                                                                                 OSCAR F. O’F. WILLS WILDE

Balcombe Florence
Florence Balcombe



To Reginald Harding[6]  [p. 29]

Sunday [6 August 1876]                                                                                     1 Merrion Square North

My dear Kitten, […]
     I am just going to bring an exquisitely pretty girl to afternoon service in the Cathedral. She is just seventeen with the most perfectly beautiful face I ever saw and not a sixpence of money. I will show you her photograph when I see you next.[7]
     […] Ever yours                                                                                                   OSCAR F. O’F. WILLS WILDE



To Robert Barnwell Roosevelt[8]  [p. 124]

8 January 1882                                                                                                                              [New York]

Dear Mr Roosevelt, What a little Ganymede you have sent me as your herald! The prettiest thing I have yet seen in America.
     […] Yours truly                                                                                                                      OSCAR WILDE



To Lillie Langtry[9]  [pp. 224-5]

[Circa 22 January 1884]                                                                                Royal Victoria Hotel, Sheffield

My dear Lil, […]
    And so, I write […] to tell you that I am going to be married to a beautiful young girl called Constance Lloyd, a grave, slight, violet-eyed little Artemis, with great coils of heavy brown hair which make her flower-like head droop like a flower, and wonderful ivory hands which draw music from the piano so sweet that the birds stop to listen to her. […]
     I am hard at work lecturing and getting quite rich, tho’ it is horrid being so much away from her, but we telegraph to each other twice a day, an I rush back suddenly from the uttermost parts of the earth to see her for an hour, and do all the foolish things which lovers do.
     Will you write and wish me happiness, and believe me, ever your devoted and affectionate friend                                                                     
                                                                       OSCAR WILDE

Wilde. Constance Lloyd ca. 1883 soon aftr her engagement
Constance Lloyd soon after her engagement, 1883


To Waldo Story[10]  [p. 225]

[Postmark 22 January 1884]                                                                                    Royal Victoria Hotel, Sheffield

Yes! my dear Waldino, yes! […]
     Her name is Constance and she is quite young, very grave, and mystical, with wonderful eyes, and dark brown coils of hair: quite perfect except that she does not think Jimmy the only painter that ever existed: […]
     We are of course desperately in love.
     […] your devoted and affectionate friend                                                                   OSCAR WILDE



To Constance Wilde[11]  [pp. 241-2]

Tuesday [Postmark 16 December 1884]                                               The Balmoral, Edinburgh

Dear and Beloved, Here I am, and you at the Antipodes. Oh execrable facts, that keep our lips from kissing, though our souls are one.
     What can I tell you by letter?  Alas! nothing else that I would tell you. The messages of the gods to each other travel not by pen and ink and indeed your bodily presence here would not make you more real: for I feel your fingers in my hair, and your cheek brushing mine. The air is full of the music of your voice, my soul and body seem no longer mine, but mingled in some exquisite ecstasy with yours. I feel incomplete without you. Ever and ever yours                                     OSCAR



To Lord Alfred Douglas  [p. 544]

[?January 1893]                                                                                                                 [Babbacombe Cliff]

My Own Boy, Your sonnet is quite lovely, and it is a marvel that those red rose-leaf lips of yours should have been made no less for music of song than for madness of kisses. Your slim gilt soul walks between passion and poetry. I know Hyacinthus, whom Apollo loved so madly, was you in Greek days.
     […] Always, with undying love, yours                                                                                         OSCAR



To Lord Alfred Douglas  [pp. 601-2]

[13 August 1894][12]                                                                                                   5  Esplanade, Worthing

My own dearest Boy, […]
     Percy[13] left the day after you did. He spoke much of you. Alphonso[14] is still in favour. He is my only companion, along with Stephen. Alphonso always alludes to you as ‘the Lord’, which however gives you, I think, a Biblical Hebraic dignity that gracious Greek boys should not have. He also says, from time to time, ‘Percy was the Lord’s favourite’, which makes me think of Percy as the infant Samuel an inaccurate reminiscence, as Percy was Hellenic.

Tuke Henry Scott. August Blue 1893
                                                    August Blue by Henry Scott Tuke, 1893

     Yesterday (Sunday) Alphonso, Stephen, and I sailed to Littlehampton in the morning, bathing on the way. We took five hours in an awful gale to come back! did not reach the pier till eleven o’clock at night, pitch dark all the way, and a fearful sea. I was drenched, but was Viking-like and daring. It was, however, quite a dangerous adventure. All the fishermen were waiting for us. I flew to the hotel for hot brandy and water, on landing with my companions, and found a letter for you from dear Henry, which I send you: they had forgotten to forward it. As it was past ten o’clock on a Sunday night the proprietor could not sell us any brandy or spirits of any kind! So he had to give it to us. The result was not displeasing, but what laws! A hotel proprietor is not allowed to sell ‘necessary harmless’ alcohol to three shipwrecked mariners, wet to the skin, because it is Sunday! Both Alphonso and Stephen are now anarchists, I need hardly say.
     Your new Sibyl is really wonderful. It is most extraordinary. I must meet her.
    Dear, dear boy, you are more to me than any one of them has any idea; you are the atmosphere of beauty through which I see life; you are the incarnation of all lovely things. When we are out of tune, all colour goes from things for me, but we are never really out of tune. I think of you day and night.
     Write to me soon, you honey haired boy! I am always devotedly yours                                



To Ada Leverson[15]  [p. 625]

[early Dec. 1894]                                                                                                                     Albemarle Club

Dear Sphinx, […] ‘The Priest and the Acolyte’ is not by Dorian: though you were right in discerning by internal evidence that the author has a profile. He is an undergraduate of strange beauty.[16]     The story is, to my ears, too direct: there is no nuance: it profanes a little by revelation: God and other artists are always a little obscure. Still, it has interesting qualities, and is at moments poisonous: which is something. Ever yours                                                                                      OSCAR



To Robert Ross[17]  [p. 629]

[Circa 25 January 1895]                                                                                 Hôtel de l’Europe, Algiers

Kabyle boys Tizi Ouzou Province ca. 1915
Kabyle boys, Tizi Ouzou Province, Algeria

Dearest Bobbie, Thank you so much. The interview is most brilliant and delightful, and your forwarding my letters really most sweet of you.
     There is a great deal of beauty here. The Kabyle boys are quite lovely. At first we had some difficulty in procuring a proper civilised guide. But now it is all right, and Bosie and I have taken to haschish: it is quite exquisite: three puffs of smoke and then peace and love. Bosie wakes up at night and cries like a child for the best haschish.
     We have been on an excursion into the mountains of — full of villages peopled by fauns. Several shepherds fluted on reeds for us. We were followed by lovely brown things from forest to forest. The beggars here have profiles, so the problem of poverty is easily solved.
     You are a great dear over my letters. Bosie sends his love, so do I. Ever yours               
The most beautiful boy in Algiers is said by the guide to be ‘deceitful’: isn't it sad? Bosie and I are awfully upset about it.[18]



To More Adey[19]  [pp. 793, 795 and 797]

7 April 1897                                                                                                            [HM Prison] Reading

My dear More, […]
     I also think it right that [Alfred Douglas’s brother] Percy should know a little of the mere outlines of my unfortunate acquaintance with his brother. The friendship began in May 1892 by his brother appealing to me in a very pathetic letter to help him in terrible trouble with people who were blackmailing him.[20] I hardly knew him at the time. I had known him eighteen months, but had only seen him four times in that space. I was, however, I admit, touched by his letter, and his appeal, and did at once get him out of his trouble at considerable difficulty and annoyance to myself. Alfred Douglas was very grateful, and practically never left me for three years – not till he had got me into prison. I wish Percy to know of my incessant efforts to break off a friendship so ruinous to me artistically, financially, and socially.
     […] Ever yours                                                                                                                                OSCAR



To Reginald Turner[21]  [p. 887]

This letter is included here purely for Wilde’s statement that he could not regard a 29-year-old as “a beautiful boy” or as desirable.

[? 7 June 1897]                                                                                Hôtel de la Plage, Berneval sur Mer

My dear Reggie, It is all very well giving me a lovely silver dressing case, and meeting me at Dieppe, and behaving like an angel: but what is the result? Simply that I come to you to ask you to do something more. I can’t help it. Why do you insist on behaving like an angel, if you object to my treating you as one?     Read first enclosed letter, before you go any further. It is necessary that you should do so. This is vital. Also it is Act I.

Ross Robbie  Reggie Turner the 2 friends w. OW the day he died
Robbie Ross and Reggie Turner, the two friends with Wilde on the day of his death

     Have you read it?
     (interval of five minutes. No band: only a cigarette.)
     If so, what do you say to such a nice simple sweet letter from Jim Cuthbert’s pal who came out on June the 2nd, and found a little £2, no more, waiting for him at the Post Office from me? You see what a good chap he is: was one of my great friends in Reading; he and Jim Cuthbert and Harry Elvin were my pals: hearts of gold.
     Now I have asked him to come and stay a week here with me so that he may have a holiday after eighteen months’ hard labour.
     His offence, I told you. He was a soldier, dined too well, or perhaps too badly, and ‘made hay’ in the harness room of the regimental stables: the sort of thing one was ‘gated’ for at Oxford, or fined £5 for by the Proctor. He has never taken anything by fraud or by violence. He is a good chap, and has a nice sweet nature.
     I had better say candidly that he is not ‘a beautiful boy’. He is twenty-nine years of age, but looks a little older, as he inherits hair that catches silver lines early: he had also a slight, but still real, moustache. I am thankful and happy to be able to say that I have no feeling for him, nor could have, other than affection and friendship. He is simply a manly simple fellow, with the nicest smile and the pleasantest eyes, and I have no doubt a confirmed ‘mulierast’, to use Robbie’s immortal phrase.
     So you see my feeling towards him. It is sad to have to explain them, but it is only fair to you. […]



To Robert Ross  [p. 1019]

[?18 Feb. 1898]                                                                                                                      Hôtel de Nice

My dearest Robbie, […]
     It is very unfair of people being horrid to me about Bosie and Naples. A patriot put in prison for loving his country loves his country, and a poet in prison for loving boys loves boys. To have altered my life would have been to have admitted that Uranian love is ignoble. I hold it to be noble – more noble than other forms. Ever yours                                                         OSCAR



To Leonard Smithers[22]  [p. 1025]

[Postmark 25 February 1898]                                                                                             Hôtel de Nice

Smithers Leonard U
Leonard Smithers

     […] Maurice[23] sends his kindest regards. We met by chance this morning, and I hope to see him again this evening. Ever yours                                                        



To Leonard Smithers  [pp. 1030-1]

[Postmark 4 March 1898]                                                               Hôtel de Nice

My dear Smithers, […]
     Maurice and I are exactly quits now – twenty-six games each – but I have unfortunately lost my heart, which I carefully staked on a separate game. Ever yours                                       



To Leonard Smithers  [p. 1031]

Saturday [Postmark 5 March 1898]                                                 [Postmark Paris]

Dear Smithers, […]
     The cheque, a thousand thanks for it, arrived safe, and, with reckless confidence, the banker cashed it Maurice took it to the bank, so I dare say it was on account of his beaux yeux. He grows dearer to me daily, and we now dine at a restaurant for two francs!
     […] Ever yours                                                                                                                                    O. W.



To Leonard Smithers  [pp. 1031-2]

Monday [Postmark 7 March 1898]                                                                              [Postmark Paris]

My dear Smithers, […]
     I sent off the sheets yesterday. Maurice sent them off; he was most kind and wrote nearly all the signatures, as I, I don’t know why, was rather tired. He writes much better than I do, so his copies should fetch 30/ – at least. […]
     Ever yours                                                                                                                                            O. W.



To Leonard Smithers  [p. 1034]   

Tuesday [Postmark 8 March 1898]                                                                                   Hôtel de Nice

Dear Smithers, […]
     Maurice is quite well. I am now two games behind. I wish you could make him your agent here at a salary of £400 a year. My fortune would be (under Providence) assured. Ever yours                                                                                                                                                  OSCAR



To Leonard Smithers  [p. 1034]

Wednesday [Postmark 9 March 1898]                                                                        [Postmark Paris]

My dear Smithers, Without my morning letter from you life would be dreadful – is dreadful – except for Maurice, who is sweeter than ever. […]
     Ever yours                                                                                                                                       O. W.



To Robert Ross  [pp. 1056-7]

[Late April 1898]                                                                                                                              [Paris]

My dear Robbie, […]
     Edmond de Goncourt begs to be remembered with love to you. He adores his sash and your memory.[24] […]
     Bosie is very angelic and quite. It did him a great deal of good being trampled on by Maurice. […] Ever yours                                                                                                                      OSCAR

Chocarne Moreau Paul Charles. The Gourmet 1908
                              Le gourmet by Paul-Charles Chocarne-Moreau, 1908

To Robert Ross 
[pp. 1057-8]

[Circa 1 May 1898]                                                                                                                           [Paris]

My dear Robbie, […]
     Edmond is very smart, and directs his little band of brigands on the Boulevard with great success. His book, Les Chevaliers du Boulevard, is begun, but he says he finds poetry very difficult. That promises well for his future as an artist. […]
     Do you love Maurice? Ever yours                                                                                            OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [pp. 1060-1]

[Circa 4 May 1898]                                                                                                                           [Paris]

My dear Robbie, […]
     Also, are you in love with Maurice? Ever yours                                                                             O.W.



To Reginald Turner  [pp. 1065-6]

[11 May 1898. Postmark 12 May 1898].                                                              Hôtel d’Alsace [Paris]

My dear Reggie, […]

13 a024 selling flowers on street Paris 1898 
Boy selling flowers on the streets of Paris, 1898

    Bosie has furnished a charming flat in the Avenue Kléber, but has spent all his money and so lives at Nogent, where it rains all day. He comes up every afternoon to look at his apartment, for his ‘bed is green.’[25] I chose it for him at Maples. He is devoted to a dreadful little ruffian aged fourteen, whom he loves because at night, in the scanty intervals he can steal from an arduous criminal profession, he sells bunches of purple violets in front of the Café de la Paix. Also every time he goes home with Bosie he tries to rent him. This, of course, adds to his terrible fascination. We call him the ‘Florifer’, a lovely name. He also keeps another boy, aged twelve! Whom Bosie wishes to know, but the wise ‘Florifer’ declines. […]
     How is my golden Maurice? I suppose he is wildly loved. His upper-lip is more like a rose-leaf than any rose-leaf I ever saw. I fear he would not be a good secretary; his writing is not clear enough, and his eyelashes are too long, but he would be a sweet theatrophone,[26] and an entrancing phonograph. […]
     Give my love to Maurice when you see him.
     And, with many thanks, dear Reggie, ever affectionately yours                                        OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [p. 1066-7]

Wednesday [11 May 1898]                                                                                                              [Paris]

My dearest Robbie, […]
     I have written to Reggie a full account of Bosie’s last love – the ‘Florifer’, so-called because he hawks violets. […]
     With a thousand thanks, dear Robbie, for all your sweetness to me, ever yours            

Douglas Lord Alfred in 1903
Lord Alfred Douglas in 1903



To Robert Ross  [p. 1070]

Friday 20 [May 1898]                                          [Paris]

My dear Robbie, […]
     Bosie is now furious with me, because when Davray,[27] who is or wishes to be most respectable, invited me to a café to meet a poet who desired to know me, Bosie turned up ten minutes after my arrival with Gaston! of all people, and placed him at Davray’s table, where he gabbled about bicycles, and was generally offensive. Davray was much annoyed, and so was I. Bosie cannot understand the smallest iota of social tact, and does not see that to thrust Giton, the boy-paederast[28] into a literary reunion, without being invited, is vulgar. […]
     Edmond desire his homage to be sent to you. Ever yours                                                   OSCAR



To Robert Ross 
[pp. 1070-1]

Tuesday, 24 May [1898]                                                                                                                        [Paris]

Dear Robbie, […]
     As regards the rooms, the difficulty about taking furnished apartments is this.
     If one has furnished apartments one is entirely at the mercy of the propriétaire, who can ask one to leave whenever he chooses, and all houses in Paris where there are furnished rooms are a form of hotel. Other people live there, and might object to my living at the same address. The propriétaire would of course find out my real name and ask me to go.
     This would not be a question of my conduct, but of my personality. Besides, he would see all my visitors, and might object to some of them. At the rue Tronchet Bosie had great trouble because Maurice used to stay with him. The proprietor demanded Maurice’s name, and said he was bound to take the names of people who passed the night in the house. He also objected to others of Bosie’s visitors arriving with him at midnight and leaving at 3:15 in the morning. […]
     But the chief point is that, if you take unfurnished rooms, you are your own master. Your visitors go up directly to call on you; the concierge is not seen nor consulted; no one can interfere. […]
     Ashton, as you know, was turned out of his hotel by a commissaire de police because he was intoxicated. He was in bed at the time, and asleep, and Maurice and I had to dress him and take him out of the hotel at 10.15 at night. The Juge d’Instruction, whom I saw personally at the Police Station, told me that the proprietor of furnished rooms could turn out any person he chose, at any time. That is French law. […]
     So you see that for me the only chance I have is to take unfurnished rooms. I don’t take them for the purpose of riotous living – lack of money, to put it on the lowest grounds, entails chastity and sobriety – but I do not want to be disturbed, and if Edmond comes to see me at tea-time I don’t want the proprietor to question me about his social status. […]
     Ever yours                                                                                                                                    OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [pp. 1073-4]

Wednesday 24 [actually 25] May [1898]                                                                                       [Paris]

dAstanieres Clement 1841 1918. nt 02
Youth by Clément d'Astanières (1841-1918)

My dear Robbie, No cheque this morning, but instead my sweet Maurice, our sweet Maurice, looking quite charming and as delightful as ever, He seemed a little tired, but of course that was the journey. He was full of affectionate memories of you and Reggie, and is quite devoted to you both. He also has lovely clothes, and looks as if he had fallen from Paradise. The concealment of his real address was idiotic. Why should he always have written from Drayton Gardens instead of from Clements Inn is incomprehensible. I am delighted he was with Reggie, as Ashton, when he was here last, told me he did not want to have Maurice staying with him any more, and I was afraid that Maurice, unconscious of this, was forcing himself on an unwilling host, and Ashton is difficile and sometimes rough in his awkward moments. I mean when he has vine-yards in his hair. […]
     I understand from Maurice [Gilbert] that you think I have boys to tea every day, and shower gold on them. My dear Robbie, I have not been visited by a single boy since Edmond came – in the daytime I mean. Of course when the moon is full I often return with Léon, to smoke a cigarette or to weave words about Life, but no one comes to see me. I am never in during the afternoon, except when I am confined to the house by a sharp attack of penury.
     I hope to go looking for rooms tomorrow with Maurice. […]
     Goodbye, dear Robbie. Write soon. Ever yours                                                                     OSCAR



To Reginald Turner  [pp. 1074-5]

Wednesday [Postmark 25 May 1898]                                                                          [Postmark Paris]

My dear Reggie, Just a line to inform you of the safe arrival of our dear Maurice. He appeared, jonquil-like in aspect, a sweet narcissus from an English meadow, at then o’clock, and was sweet and loving and loveable as ever. He was quite cut up at his parting with you and Robbie.
     It is wonderful how all flowers of the narcissus kind thrive in the old musty Law-Inns of London: there is something in the air that seems to suit them. Phillimore Gardens is excellent for wallflowers, but for Narcissus or Hyacinth the Law-Inns are best. […]
     Bosie has grown tired of the ‘Florifer’, but intends using the word in a sonnet. All romances should end in a sonnet. I suppose all romances do. […]
     Ever yours                                                                                                                                    OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [pp. 1076-7]

[Circa 28 May 1898]                                                                                                                         [Paris]

My dear Robbie, […]
     I wish you would write and tell me how much you love Maurice. He is a great dear, and loves us all, a born Catholic in romance; he is always talking about you and Reggie. […]
     Robert Sherard … begged me to lunch with him and to bring Maurice, but I declined, feigning temporary good health as my excuse! His asking me to bring Maurice was astounding, as when he was last in Paris he refused to call on me because M. was staying with me, and generally was offensive about a lovely and loveable friendship. …
     This letter seems not all business-like, but Maurice’s account of you has somewhat disturbed the severe Spartan Ideal I had formed of you lately. Ever yours                           OSCAR



To Reginald Turner  [p. 1077]

Monday, 30 May [1898]                                                                                                 [Postmark Paris]

Dear Reggie, Thanks for your letter. I am greatly distressed about your remarks about Eugene, that wonderful harvest-moon. It is clearly the fatal and unconscious influence of dear Maurice, who, as I have mentioned to my publisher in a business-letter I was writing to him, is all French lily and English rose.
     […] Ever yours                                                                                                                                O.W.



To Robert Ross  [p. 1078]

Tuesday, 31 May [1898]                                                                                                [Postmark Paris]

My dear Robbie, […] I don’t wish to be horrid, but I think you are a little unkind in saying you cannot explain to people that the object of my taking unfurnished rooms is to enable me to have boys. Boys can be had everywhere. The difficulty I am under is my name, my personality. I might be practically turned out of furnished rooms at a moment’s notice. In unfurnished I am my own master. Would it be quite fair to say of Reggie that he had taken a flat in Clements Inn in order ‘to have boys’? Of course he could not live his life in furnished lodgings: it would be impossible, and most dangerous. But his object is simply to live his own life, with all that implies. […]
     Ever yours                                                                                                                                    OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [pp. 1081-2]

1 June 1898                                                                                                                                        [Paris]

My dear Robbie, […]
     Bosie is now inseperable from Maurice; they have gone again to Nogent. […]
     Ever yours                                                                                                                                    OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [p. 1083]

[Early June 1898]                                                                                                                              [Paris]

My dear Robbie, […]
     His [Maurice’s] mouth, when he talks, and he is never silent, is the most beautiful mouth I know. It has the curves of Greek art and English flowers. …[29]
     Edmond tells me he wrote you an absurd letter. I can’t understand why he called with a young champion bicyclist. Ever yours                                                                                         OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [pp. 1100-1]

[Circa 23 November 1898]                                      Grand Café, 14 boulevard des Capucines, Paris.

Astagnieres Clement d. The Mischievous. 1882
Mischievous by Clément d'Astanières, 1882

My dear Robbie, […]
     Sir John[30] was astonishing, went through a romance with an absurd Boulevard boy, who, of course, cheated him, and treated him badly. The reason was that Sir John had given him a suit of clothes - an admirable reason. To undress is romance, to dress, philanthropy. You are quite philanthropic to me, but you are also romantic - the sole instance of the lack of philosophy in clothes. Do let me have a cheque: if you can, by return. Ever yours                                              OSCAR



To Reginald Turner  [pp. 1103-4]                 

Saturday [Postmark 26 Nov. 1898] Paris

My dear Reggie, […]
     Do let me know about Bosie in London. Is he happy to be back? And are people kind to him? How is he behaving? He has only written to me once - a brief scrawl - not very charming.
     Do you remember the young Corsican at the Restaurant Jouffroy? His position was menial, but eyes like the night and a scarlet flower of a mouth made one forget that: I am great friends with him. His name is Giorgio: he is a most passionate faun.
     […] Ever yours                                                                                                          OSCAR                                                                                                                            


To Robert Ross  [p. 1105]   

2 December [1898]                                                                                         Taverne F. Pousset [Paris]

My dear Robbie, […]
     Hylton,[31] whom you know, is here with a London lad, whose lack of aspirates reminds me of many of my former friends. He seems to be enjoying himself very much. Ashton is supposed to arrive tomorrow with his boy from St Malo.     
     […] Ever yours,                                                                                                                           OSCAR



To Reginald Turner  [pp. 1107-8]

Tuesday [Postmark 6 December 1898]                                                                          Hotel d’ Alsace

My dear Reggie, Sir John[32] arrived long after midnight on Saturday from St Malo, after a journey of about eight hours, and four changes de voiture. He found his little friend Joseph with a black eye and a swollen nose, caused by intoxication and a political discussion. Joseph also left him on Sunday morning, and did not appear till the next day, having had vine-leaves in his hair. He is a little Dionysiac, and the conversation of Sir John which is chiefly composed of good advice, drives him to drink. Tonight I dine with Sir John at Bosie’s flat: Joseph is to serve, if he is sober: if not, he is to dine with us, I suppose. I am glad to say Sir John is getting cured of his infatuation: and I have begged him never again to try to have a good influence: it simply drives happy bright-eyed lads to delirium tremens.

Delaunay Jules Elie. Deux etudes dun jeune garcon couche
                   Deux études d'un jeune garçon couché by Jules-Élie Delaunay 1828-91 (Louvre) 

     Your little friend Alphonse was arrested last night for chantage.[33] He demanded fifteen francs, and was only given ten and a cab-fare, so on being expelled from the house he made a scene and was taken up. There is much joy amongst his friends, as his general conduct did not meet with approval. It is a pity he always wanted to behave badly; it gave him a demoniac pleasure. He was quite an imp, though attractive in love-scenes.
     Hylton is here with his boy Herbert. I must say he is almost impossible. He is a sort of grown up man with a hysterical womb, and makes scenes with Sir John like a woman with child. On the whole I don’t think I can stand him much longer, though of course he professes lavish adoration of me, and perhaps feels some too.[…]
     Ever yours                                                                                                                                    OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [p. 1112]

Tuesday [27 December 1898]                                                                        Hôtel des Bains, Napoule

My dear Robbie, […]
     A nice fellow called Harold Mellor, who is staying at Cannes, comes over constantly to see me. … He has a pretty Italian boy with him. They stayed last night at Napoule, and we had plum pudding …
     The fishing population of the Riviera have the same freedom from morals as the Neapolitans have.  They are very nice. Ever yours                                                                          OSCAR



To Laurence Housman[34]  [p. 1113]

[Circa 28 December 1898]                                                                              Hôtel des Bains, Napoule

My dear Housman, […]
     The people here – fisher-folk all – have beautiful eyes, crisp hair of a hyacinth colour, and no morals: an ideal race. I have two special friends, one called Raphael, the other Fortuné – both quite perfect, except that they can read and write.
     […] Sincerely yours                                                                                                        OSCAR WILDE

 Alpes Maritimes. Le Grand Hotel des Bains Napoule dtl
Le Grand Hôtel des Bains, La Napoule

To Robert Ross 
[p. 1114]

28 December [1898]                                                                                        Hôtel des Bains, Napoule

Dear Robbie, […]
     I went to Nice the other day, for the afternoon. It was most pretty and gay. I met there a very nice boy whom I knew in Paris, one of the noble army of the Boulevard. He is eighteen, very elegant, and apparently a leader of fashion at Nice. At least he seemed to know everyone, and on my leaving, accompanied me to the station, and borrowed five francs. […] Ever yours                                                                                                                                                  OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [p. 1116]

2 January 1899                                                                                                                            Napoule  

My dear Robbie, The cheque on Cook arrived this morning: many thanks. The proprietor was looking a little anxious - rather yellow in fact - but has now quite regained his spirits, as I have told him I shall pay him this afternoon.

Bernhardt Sarah in La Tosca 1887
Sarah Bernhardt (one of the three women, beside Lily Langtry and Queen Victoria) whom Wilde said he could happily have married, in La Tosca

     No sign yet of Frank Harris: it is a great bore. There is a charming fellow called Harold Mellor (sent away from Harrow at the age of fourteen for being loved by the captain of the cricket eleven)[35] who is staying with his mother near Cannes, and comes over on his bicycle to breakfast every morning. He is about twenty-six, but looks younger. Sometimes a very pretty, slim, fair-haired Italian boy bicycles over with him. His name is Eolo; his father, who sold him to Harold for 200 lire, having christened all his children - seventeen in number - out of the Mythological Dictionary. Harold is a nice fellow, but his boy bores him. It is dreadfully sad.
     He took me to Nice on Friday and we saw Sarah in La Tosca. I went round to see Sarah and she embraced me and wept, and I wept, and the whole evening was wonderful. I wish to goodness you would come here. I need you immensely. As regards my marrying again, I am quite sure that you will want me to marry this time some sensible, practical, plain, middle-aged boy, and I don’t like the idea at all. Besides I am practically engaged to a fisherman of extraordinary beauty, age eighteen. So you see there are difficulties.
     Love to Reggie. Ever yours                            OSCAR



To Leonard Smithers  [p. 1117]

[Postmark 3 January 1899]                                                                            Hôtel des Bains, Napoule

My dear Smithers, […]
     I am leading a very good life, and it does not agree with me. There is a sad lack of Fauns in the pinewoods at Napoule, and if the sea has its Proteus, he is always disguised as an elderly Member of Parliament. How is Pollitt? He has sent me two photographs of himself: in one he is fair, in the other dark; and neither resembles the other. What is he like? Ever yours                                                                                                                                                  OSCAR



To Reginald Turner  [pp. 1117-8]

[Postmark 3 January 1899]                                                                            Hôtel des Bains, Napoule

Wilde letter to Louis Wilkinson 1899 02 03
Letter from Wilde to the Radley schoolboy of 3 Feb. 1899

My dear Reggie, How are you getting on? And how is Sir John? Do let me have a little news of you. Of course there is no good begging you to come out here, though there is wonderful sunshine each day. Sometimes the Mistral blows a little - it is a harsh Philistine wind - but on the whole the weather is utterly delightful.
     My friend, my new friend, Harold Mellor comes here today to stay at the hotel, and tomorrow we go to Nice, for the day. A great friend of mine, a Paris boy called le petit Georges, is now at Nice, and I have promised to run over and see him. He is like a very handsome Roman boy, dark, and bronze-like, with splendidly chiselled nose and mouth, and the tents of midnight are folded in his eyes; moons hide in their curtains. He is visiting Nice on speculative business. It is beautiful, and encouraging, to find people who can combine romance with business – blend them indeed, and make them one.
     I am in constant correspondence now with a Radley schoolboy, aged seventeen. His photograph, which he has sent me, and sends me constantly, is most beautiful. He seems to read nothing but my books, and says his one desire is to ‘follow in my footsteps’! But I have told him that they lead to terrible places.
     I hope you are combining romance with business. Robbie seems to think that you are terribly overpaid and underworked, which looks like it: but perhaps that is merely Robbie’s jealousy.
     Do send me a line. Ever affectionately yours                                                                         OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [p. 1118]

Thursday [? 12 January 1899]                                                                       Hôtel des Bains, Napoule

My dear Robbie, Thanks so much for the Henry James. I think it is a most wonderful, lurid, poisonous little tale, like an Elizabethan tragedy. I am greatly impressed by it.[36] James is developing, but he will never arrive at passion, I fear.

Wilkinson Louis the Radley Schoolboy
Louis Wilkinson

I have been over again to Nice with Harold Mellor, for three days. It was most pretty and gay, and music everywhere. I met one beautiful person, called André, with wonderful eyes, and a little Italian, Pietro, like a young St. John. One would have followed him into the desert.
     Poor Sir John! However, I think he may do well in the States. The only thing I never could forgive him was his absurd love of Walter - a plain, crooked, ugly, and tedious youth, but Sir John was capital company, and a very astounding person in his capacity for pleasure, grand in his cups, and with a heart of gold. […]
     My Radley boy is called Louis Wilkinson - a horrid name – but his photograph is most interesting, and his poetry passionate and incoherent.[37] He seems a most astonishing boy. He has dramatised Dorian Gray! Ever yours’                                                                             



To Leonard Smithers  [p. 1119]  

13 January 1899                                                                                               Hôtel des Bains, Napoule

My dear Smithers, […]
     Yes: even at Napoule there is romance: it comes in boats and takes the form of fisher-lads, who draw great nets, and are bare-limbed: they are strangely perfect. I was at Nice lately: romance there is a profession plied beneath the moon.
     The Chronicle now arrives daily. Many thanks. Ever yours                                      OSCAR WILDE



To Reginald Turner  [p. 1132]

[Postmark 20 March 1899]                                                                                       Gland, Switzerland

My dear Reggie, […]
     I don’t like [Harold] Mellor: he is a silent, dull person, cautious, and economical: revolting Swiss wines appear at meals: he is complex without being interesting: has Greek loves, and is rather ashamed of them: has heaps of money, and lives in terror of poverty. […]
     On my way I stopped at Genoa, where I met a beautiful young actor, a Florentine, whom I wildly loved. He has the strange name of Didaco. He has the look of Romeo, without Romeo’s sadness: a face chiselled for high romance. We spent three days together.
     […] Ever yours                                                                                                                            OSCAR



To Leonard Smithers  [p. 1139]

[postmark 30 March 1899]                                                                                       Gland, Switzerland

At the House of the Enemy
Among the Cities of the Plain

My dear Smithers, […]
     I am going to try to find a place near Genoa, where I can live for ten francs a day (boy compris). The chastity of Switzerland has got on my nerves. Neither Sporus nor Ganymede treads these fields of snow, and Mellor is too repulsive for anything. […]
     Ever yours                                                                                                                                            O. W.



To Robert Ross  [p. 1140]

1 April 1899                                                                                                          Café du Nord, Geneva

Gemito Vincenzo. Study for The Fisherboy 1871
Study for The Fisherboy by Vincenzo Gemito

My dear Robbie, […]
     I hope to find at Genoa, waiting for me, a young lad, by name Edoardo Rolla, one of the sea-farers. He has fair hair, and is always in dark blue. I have written to him. After the chill virginity of Swiss Alps and snow, I long for the red flowers of life that stain the feet of summer in Italy. Ever yours                                                                O. W.



To Leonard Smithers  [p. 1141]

[?8 April 1899]                                                                                            Albergo di Firenze, Genoa

My dear Smithers, […]
     I am at Santa Margherita, Ligure, Genoa, where please write and send the DC: the only consolation I have as I do not love the lad Edoardo Rolla as much as I did. Yours                                                                                 O. W.



To Robert Ross  [p. 1143]

[Circa 16 May 1899]                                                                                                 Hôtel de la Néva [Paris]

My dear Robbie, […]
     Your little friend Henri plies up and down all day, and has the sweetest and most compromising smiles for me, especially when I am with friends.
     Do write soon. Ever, with fondest love                                                                                        OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [p. 1157]

[?3 July 1899]                                                                                                             Hôtel Marsollier [Paris]

My dearest Robbie, […]    
     Casquette [a boy] is well, and has a blue suit. Edmond de Goncourt has returned from prison and shows himself on the boulevard in a straw hat. I am still devoted to Le Premier Consul, but I also love a young Russian called Maltchek Perovinski, aged eighteen. He is quite charming, and very educated.
     […] Ever yours                                                                                                                                 OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [p. 1177]

Thursday [late March 1900]                                              Grand Café, Boulevard des Capucines, Paris

Dear Robbie, […]
     Only an hour after I, with ‘waving hands’ like Tennyson’s Vivien, had evolved a new evangel of morals, dear Aleck passed before the little café behind the Madeleine, and saw me with a beautiful boy in green velvet – half rough, all Hylas. […]
     With best love, dear horrid irritating Robbie, yours                                                                  OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [pp. 1178-81]

16 April 1900                                                                       c/o Cook & Son, Piazza di Spagna, Rome

Seminarist. Illustration for Italy from the Alps to Mount Etna. 1877
Seminarist (from Italy from the Alps to Mount Etna, 1877)

My dear Robbie, […]
     Monreale you have heard of, with its cloisters and cathedral. We often drove there, the cocchieri most dainty finely-carved boys. In them, not in the Sicilian horses, is race seen. The most favoured were Manuele, Francesco, and Salvatore. I loved them all, but only remember Manuele.
     I also made great friends with a young Seminarist who lived in the Cathedral of Palermo, he and eleven others in little rooms beneath the roof, like birds.
     Every day he showed me all over the Cathedral, and I really knelt before the huge porphyry sarcophagus in which Frederick the Second lies. It is a sublime bare monstrous thing, blood-coloured, and held up by lions, who have caught some of the rage of the great Emperor’s restless soul. At first, my young friend, Giuseppe Loverde by name, gave me information: but on the third day I gave information to him, and re-wrote History as usual, and told him all about the Supreme King and his Court of Poets, and the terrible book that he never wrote. Giuseppe was fifteen, and most sweet. His reason for entering the Church was singularly mediaeval. I asked him why he thought of becoming a clerico: and how.
     He answered “My father is a cook, and most poor, and we are many at home, so it seemed to me a good thing that there should be in so small a house as ours one mouth less to feed, for, though I am slim, I eat much: too much, alas! I fear.”
     I told him to be comforted, because God used poverty often as a means of bringing people to Him, and used riches never, or but rarely. So Giuseppe was comforted, and I gave him a little book of devotion, very pretty, and with far more pictures than prayers in it; so of great service to Giuseppe, whose eyes are beautiful. I also gave him many lire, and prophesied for him a Cardinal’s hat, if he remained very good, and never forgot me. He said he never would: and indeed I don’t think he will, for every day I kissed him behind the high altar. […]
     Homer [a boy] talks much – a little too much – of you. He slightly suspects you of treachery, and your immediate return seems to him problematical. Your allusion to his conduct on a postcard was mysterious. How was the ‘revision’ painful?
     I have added one Pietro Branca-d’Oro to the group. He is dark, and gloomy, and I love him very much.
     […] Always                                                                                                                               OSCAR   



To Robert Ross  [pp. 1181-3]

Saturday [21 April 1900]                                                                                                                  Rome

My dear Robbie, […]
     I also go to look at that beautiful voluptuous marble boy I went to worship with you at the Museo Nazionale. What a lovely thing it is!
     I have given up Armando, a very smart elegant young Roman Sporus. He was beautiful, but his requests for raiment and neckties were incessant: he really bayed for boots, as a dog moonwards. I now like Arnaldo: he was Armando’s greatest friend, but the friendship is over. Armando is un invidioso[38] apparently, and is suspected of having stolen a lovely covert-coat in which he patrols the Corso. The coat is so delightful, and he looks so handsome in it, that, although the coat wasn't mine, I have forgiven him the theft.
     Omero has never received your letter. I need not say I have not given him your London address - at least not your real one: he now believes that your real name is Edmondo Gosse, and that your address is the Savile. I also added that some of your more intimate friends prefer to write to you as`

Wilde O. on the steps of St. Peters 1900
Wilde before the steps of St. Peter's, Rome, 1900

Reginaldo Turner
The Reform Club:

but that I, from old associations, prefer to address you as

Sir Wemyss Reid,

so I fancy there will be many interesting letters arriving in London. […]
     I also intend to photograph Arnaldo.  […]
    Ever yours                                                     OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [pp. 1183-4]   

[22 April 1900]                                                 [Rome]

Dear little Robbie,
   […] Yesterday I went to Albano: how lovely it is! […] Omero was with me, and Armando, forgiven for the moment. He is so absurdly like the Apollo Belvedere that I feel always as if I was Winckelmann when I am with him.[39] His lips are the same, his hair, his somewhat vulgar, because quite obvious, pride; and he also represents that decadence of the triumph of the face over the body, never seen in Greek art. Witness the thighs of Theseus, the breasts and flank of Hermes.
     His body is slim, dandy-like, elegant, and without a single great curve. He has not come out of the womb of giant circles.
     […] Ever yours                                                                                                                            OSCAR



To More Adey  [p. 1185]

[Postmark 26 April 1900]                                                                               c/o Cook and Son, Rome

My dear More, […]
     Robbie left me a legacy of a youthful guide, who knows nothing about Rome. Omero is his name, and I am showing him Rome.
     Goodbye for the present, dear More, and believe me always affectionately yours          OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [p. 1186]

Vendredi [27 April 1900][40]                                                                                                       [Rome]

Dear Robbie, […]
     I wandered in exquisite melancholy [in the Vatican Gardens] for an hour. One Philippo, a student, whom I culled in the Borgia room, was with me: not for many years has Love walked in the Pope’s pleasaunce.
     […] Always yours                                                                                                                       OSCAR

Vatican Gardens late 1890s
The Vatican Gardens in the late 1890s


To Robert Ross  [p. 1186]

Thursday [May 1900]     

Dearest Robbie, […]                                                                                                                       [Rome]
On going to see the Pope again:
     I gave a ticket to a new friend, Dario. I like his name so much: it was the first time he had ever seen the Pope: and he transferred to me his adoration of the successor of Peter: would I fear have kissed me on leaving the Bronze Gateway had I not sternly repelled him. I have become very cruel to boys, and no longer let them kiss me in public.
     […] Ever yours                                                                                                                                 OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [p. 1187]

14 May [1900]                                                                                                                                     Rome

Dearest Robbie, […] I leave Rome tomorrow. […]
     Today I bade goodbye, with tears and one kiss, to the beautiful Greek boy who was found in my garden – I mean in Nero’s garden. He is the nicest boy you ever introduced to me.
     In the mortal sphere I have fallen in and out of love, and fluttered hawks and doves alike. How evil it is to buy Love, and how evil to sell it! And yet what purple hours one can snatch from that grey slowly-moving thing we call Time! My mouth is twisted with kissing, and I feed on fevers. […] Ever yours                                                                                                      OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [p. 1192]

[?Circa 29 June 1900]                                                                                                                       [Paris]

My dear Robbie, […]
     Bosie I have not seen for a week. I feel sure he will do nothing. Boys, brandy and betting monopolise his soul. He is really a miser: but his method of hoarding is spending: a new type.
     […] Ever yours                                                                                                                                 OSCAR



To Robert Ross  [p. 1194]

1 September [1900]                                                                                                                           [Paris]

My dear Robbie, […]
     He [Harold Mellor] is now in Paris with his slave Eolo, who like all slaves is most tyrannical. […]
     Ever yours                                                                                                                                    OSCAR



To Leonard Smithers  [p. 1196] 

[Postmark 2 September 1900                                                                                                           Paris]

     […] My dear Neapolitans have returned to Naples and I miss that brown faun with his deep woodland eyes and his sensuous grace of limb. A slim brown Egyptian, rather like a handsome bamboo walking-stick, occasionally serves me drinks at the Café d’Egypte, but he does not console me for the loss of the wanton sylvan boy of Italy.

Wilde after his death 30 11 1900 photographed by Maurice Gilbert 
          Wilde just after his death, 30 November 1900, photographed by Maurice Gilbert


[1] The only exception was a boy with whom he had an assignation when he was an undergraduate at Oxford and whom he described in a poem as “A man child lusty and fair With little white limbs and little feet” and “a throat as a singing dove”, and thus sounds significantly younger than fifteen. [Website footnote]

[2] William Welsford Ward (1854-1932) was a fellow undergraduate of Wilde’s at Magdalen College, Oxford, and later a solicitor in Bristol. [Website footnote]

[3] Charles John Todd (1854-1939), Magdalene undergraduate 1874-7, Chaplain to the Royal Navy 1881-1909. [Book editors’ footnote]

[4] Eric Richard Ward, Magdalene chorister 1874-8. [Book editors’ footnote]. Ward was 13 at the time, since he was born early in 1863 (civil registration). The son of a clergyman, he went on to become a student at Magdalene, then a solicitor in Devon, married with children, and died in 1925 (baptismal register of St. Raphael, Bristol; civil registration; censuses of 1881 and 1911) [Website footnote].

[5] George Loyd Foster Harter (1852-1920), Magdalen undergraduate 1871-5; became a barrister. [Book editors’ footnote]

[6] Richard Reginald Harding (1857-1932), Magdalen Commoner 1875-9. [Book editors’ footnote]

[7] Almost certainly Florence Balcombe. [Book editors’ footnote]

[8] Sportsman, politician, bon vivant and author of books on fishing, shooting and the improbablr Progressive Petticoats (1829-1906). Uncle to the more famous Theodore, he attended both Mrs. Croly’s and Mrs. Bigelow’s receptions that evening. Wilde later spent time with him on his estate on Long Island when he returned to New York in July. [Book editors’ footnote]

[9] Emily Charlotte Le Breton (1852-1929) who came from Jersey and was considered the most beautiful woman of her generation married in her teens Edward Langtry [Book editors’ footnote]. She was an actress and sometime mistress of the Prince of Wales [Website footnote].

[10] American sculptor (1855-1915). [Book editors’ footnote]

[11] Except for the brief notes on pp.633 and 637, this is the only letter from Wilde to his wife which is known to have survived. The rest were almost certainly destroyed by her family or her executors after her death. [Book editors’ footnote]

[12] This letter is datable from the Worthing weather records. The only Sunday during Wilde’s stay in Worthing which produced such severe weather was 12 August. For a full account see The Wildean No. 8 (1996). [Book editors’ footnote]

[13] Not Douglas’s brother but an unidentified boy. [Book editors’ footnote]

[14] Alphonse Conway, a newspaper boy whom Wilde had met on the beach at Worthing. Wilde later took him to Brighton and bought him a new suit. All this was brought up in Wilde’s libel trial against Queeensberry. [Book editors’ footnote] Alphonso had just reached 16, having been born on 17 July 1878 (according to his birth certificate, to be posted on this website soon). The full story of his liaison with Wilde was well and thoroughly told by Antony Edmonds in his Oscar Wilde's Scandalous Summer, (Stroud: Amberley, 2014). [Website footnote]

[15] Ada Esther Beddington (1862-1933) married Ernest David Leverson. […] She contributed witty pieces to Punch and other periodicals. She was one of Wilde’s closest woman friends. [Book editors’ footnote]

[16] The Priest and the Acolyte was a pederastic short story published in the only issue of the Oxford periodical, The Chameleon, in December 1894. Its author, John Francis Bloxam, an undergraduate at Exeter College, was born on 17 December 1873 and was aged 20 in the summer of 1894 when he both met Wilde and wrote the story. [Website footnote]

[17] Robert Baldwin Ross (1869-1918) was a Canadian […] a literary journalist and art critic. He first et Wilde in 1886 and remained his most faithful friend until Wilde’s death when he became the literary executor to the estate [Book editors’ footnote]. Aged 16 or 17, he seduced Wilde, thus introducing him to homosex. Thereafter, he was himself a prolific lover of boys, some of the better documented being Claude Dansey, 16, Philip Wortham, 14, and his younger brother Oswald (Ian Anstruther, Oscar Browning (London: John Murray, 1983) pp. 133-7) [Website footnote]

[18] The story of Wilde and Douglas’s amorous adventures with boys in Algeria in January 1895 was most fully told by André Gide in his memoir Si le grain ne meurt (Paris, 1926). [Website footnote]

[19] William More Adey (1858-1942). […] Close friend of Robert Ross, with whom he later ran the Carfax picture gallery. Joint editor of the Burlington Magazine 1911-19 [Book editors’ footnote].

[20] Nothing certain is known of who had blackmailed Douglas for what, but it is assumed that it was over liaisons with boys, given his exclusive sexual interest in them, and that blackmail was notoriously common then in connection with homosexuality. [Website footnote]

[21] 1869-1938. […]  Journalist and wit. Lived mostly abroad. Published a number of novels [Book editors’ footnote]. As becomes clear from later excerpts, he was also boysexual [Website footnote].

[22] Leonard Charles Smithers (1861-1907) was A London bookseller and publisher associated with the Decadent movement, and one of the few publishers prepared to publish decadent literature after Wilde’s trials. [Website footnote]

[23] Maurice Gilbert, one of Wilde’s closest and most devoted friends during these last years. Except that his father was English and his mother French, and that he was a young soldier in the marine infantry, nothing is known of him [Book editors’ footnote].

[24] The nickname of a boy called Edmond. The famous Edmond de Goncourt … had died in 1896. [Book editors’ footnote]

[25] The Song of Solomon, I, 16. [Book editors’ footnote]

[26] A telephone for transmitting stage dialogue from the theatre. [Book editors’ footnote]

[27] Henry Davray, French writer and translator from English. [Book editors’ footnote]

[28] Giton (here presumably a pun on Gaston) is one of the principal characters in the Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter, and the boyfriend of the narrator. [Book editors’ footnote]

[29] Although Maurice Gilbert was to remain a close friend of Wilde for the remaining two years of the latter’s life. However, after this reference, there are no more mentions of his beauty or strong hints that his friendships with Wilde or others were amorous. It may be that he had reached the limits of boyhood and his friendship with Wilde had changed its nature. The further references to him on pp. 1084, 1090, 1094, 1102, 1175, 1178, 1191, 1217, 1219, 1222 are accordingly not extracted here.

[30] “Sir John” is the nickname of one I. D. W. Ashton. [Book editors’ footnote]

[31] Unidentified. [Book editors’ footnote]

[32] “Sir John” is the nickname of one I. D. W. Ashton. [Book editors’ footnote] 

[33] Blackmail. [Book editors’ footnote]

[34] Poet, dramatist, novelist and artist (1865-1959). [Website footnote]

[35] Mellor is readily identifiable in The Harrow School Register 1800-1911 (edited by M. G. Dauglish & P. K. Stephenson, London: Longmans, 1911) p. 607 as a boy admitted in the first term of 1883 and left in the last term of 1883: “Mellor, Harold (Mr. B. Smith's), son of J. Mellor, Esq., Roy House.” He was presumably therefore 29 rather than 26 when he met Wilde.

[36]  This must refer to “The Turn of the Screw’, which was published in a volume called The Two Magics in October 1898. [Book editors’ footnote]

[37] Louis Umfreville Wilkinson (1881-1966) became a prolific novelist and biographer. He married four times and had three children.

[38]  Jealous. [Book editors’ footnote]

[39] Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-68), German archaeologist, historian and in some sense rediscoverer of Greek art. Lived for many years in Rome. [Book editors’ footnote]

[40] Ledger’s date [Book editors’ footnote]