During Victorian times, Alfred "Bosie" Douglas was compared to Shakespeare
for his sonnet
-writing style. He became known as a flamboyant homosexual, with poems like "Two Loves"
establishing the phrase "the love that dare not speak its name
" as code for homosexuality. His relationship with Oscar Wilde
(and lack of discretion regarding the relationship) was largely responsible for Wilde's imprisonment on counts of "gross indecency" in 1895. Bosie's father, the Marquess of Queensbury
, accused Wilde of sodomy after finding a private letter from Wilde that Bosie failed to keep private. Wilde sued for libel, but lost the case when several of his homosexual relationships were exposed on the stand. He was afterwards charged and convicted with gross indecency.
Later in life, Douglas married a woman, reverted to Catholicism, claimed he was never a homosexual, and ran through much of his inheritance by suing everyone who annoyed him or whom (he claimed) had libeled him. Paradoxically, he was eventually imprisoned himself for libeling Winston Churchill, and died shortly afterwards, relatively unknown.
He is also remembered for his correspondences with George Bernard Shaw, spanning over 15 years. The two argued about several subjects, such as politics and religion. One who reads through these correspondences can see Douglas's weaknesses and Shaw's wit. Shaw consistently won every argument, while Bosie was ever unaware of his ignorance. But he sure could file a mean lawsuit. He'll be missed . . .