Even her husband’s bed partners — and there were always plenty of those around — found mostly good things to say about Mrs. Oscar Wilde, or “poor, dear Constance” as she was known in polite society after the Bosie scandal broke their marriage wide open. “So sweet, so pretty and good, how came she by her outrageously intellectual husband?” wondered Richard Le Gallienne. “It was impossible not to predict suffering for a woman so domestic and simple mated with a mind so searching and so perverse, and a character so self-indulgent.”

That is unfair. Differences in temperament and intellectual chops are more expeditiously resolved by divorce than by tragedy. Constance Lloyd was a woman of intelligence and discernment, but as Oscar’s appetite for fame and louche young men kept on growing, so did the distance between them. “She could not understand me and I was bored to death with the married life,” Wilde confided to his ever faithful acolyte, sometime lover, and eternal sidekick, Robbie Ross. “But she had some sweet points in her character and was wonderfully loyal to me.” More… “(W)here Lies Constance Wilde?”

Robert Latona is a journalist based in Madrid, Spain.


Oscar Wilde, says the standard biographical narrative, was trained in classics, won an Oxford award for an early poem in 1878, toured the United States lecturing on the field of Aesthetics, married, had two children, exercised latent homosexuality as he grew tired of the repetition of marriage, and exploded on the literary scene as the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray. “Now that he had accepted the same sex desire that had followed him since youth, Wilde felt liberated, happy to be alive,” writes biographer Barbara Belford in Oscar Wilde: A Certain Genius (Random House, 2000). “He embarked on his most prolific period as a writer.”

“After his marriage to Constance Lloyd in 1884 and the birth of his two sons, Wilde began to make his way into London theater, literary, and homosexual scenes,” says the biographical sketch… More…