Cover image for Bosie : a biography of Lord Alfred Douglas
Bosie : a biography of Lord Alfred Douglas
Murray, Douglas, 1980-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Talk Miramax Books ; Hyperion, [2000]

Physical Description:
x, 374 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR6007.O86 Z77 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PR6007.O86 Z77 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Lord Alfred Douglas, or 'Bosie' as he was known, is destined to be remembered as the lover of Oscar Wilde. Dissolute, well-born and beautiful as a young man, his role in the events that led to Oscar Wilde's trial and imprisonment determined the strange celebrity which haunted him until his death. Biographies of Wilde generally give only a cursory account of what happened to Douglas after Wilde's death, but Bosie recounts the full and absorbing story of his complex life. A successful though now obscure poet, he renounced homosexuality after converting to Roman Catholicism and embarked on an ill-fated marriage to Olive Custance. Lord Alfred's time was largely consumed by his growing interest in religion and costly feuds - he was imprisoned for libeling Winston Churchill - and he died a neglected and lonely figure in 1945.

Douglas Murray has had unprecedented access to many letters and key literary manuscripts, and presents evidence which casts a new light on the relationship between Wilde and Bosie. Indeed, Murray has succeeded where Bosie himself failed in securing the release of a British government file which was to be sealed until 2043. The result is a genuinely groundbreaking biography, and the definitive account of a fascinating life.

Author Notes

Douglas Murray has recently graduated from Magdalen College, Oxford

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Lord Alfred Douglas, known as Bosie, had the face and body of a classic Greek statue, and his life, in which fate and his own hubris interacted disastrously, could constitute a Greek tragedy. One comes away from this assiduously researched and percipient biography of Oscar Wilde's notorious lover, once considered "among the foremost younger English poets," with an indelible impression of a man endowed by fortune who was destroyedÄfirst by the court trial brought on by his father, Lord Queensberry, and then by his own rash behavior. First-time author Murray, who is only 23 and still an undergraduate at Oxford, is impressive in his mature assessment of Bosie's emotional instability and ruinous need for revenge, tracing much of it to the strain of insanity in the Douglas family. While his account of the infamous 1895 libel trial is mainly sourced from earlier books and records, Murray's access to the further details of Douglas's life through letters and journals in Britain and in the Berg collection here breaks new ground. Treated shamefully by Wilde after the playwright's release from prison, and then vilified by English society, Douglas developed a persecution mania that inspired many of his unhinged accusations. As Murray shows, at every point in his life Douglas made poor judgmentsÄsabotaging his career as a poet and editor, resorting to libel and rushing to litigation in a clearly hostile court system, destroying a strange but loving marriage, losing his son and his social standingÄand then even criminally libeling Winston Churchill. Eventually, Douglas was left penniless and alone. On the evidence Murray presents here, however, Douglas's small but eloquent poetical oeuvre should survive the sad scandal of his life. B&w photos not seen by PW. Agents, Belinda Harley and Mary Pachnos. First serial to Talk magazine. (June) FYI: Douglas's papers were embargoed by the British Home Office until 2043, but when Murray was 16 and at Eton, he persuaded the Home Office to grant him access to those papers. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. vi
Acknowledgementsp. viii
Introductionp. 1
1. 'The old years that held and fashioned me' 1870-1889p. 5
2. 'I am the love that dare not speak its name' 1889-1895p. 27
3. 'The cold world loves not my love' 1895-1900p. 73
4. 'Now I have known the uttermost rose of love' 1900-1907p. 121
5. 'When was ought but stories for English Prophets?' 1907-1913p. 145
6. 'I bayed the pack alone' 1913-1923p. 191
7. 'Wash we our starward gazing eyes with tears' 1923-1933p. 235
8. 'Till the dead flesh set free the living soul' 1933-1945p. 277
Notesp. 331
Select Bibliographyp. 359
Illustration Creditsp. 362
Indexp. 363