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Articles by Sarah Parker

After Oscar: The Life of Olive Custance, wife of Lord Alfred Douglas

By Sarah Parker on 20 Sep 2014

Many people are familiar with the facts of Oscar Wilde's life - particularly his doomed relationship with Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas which eventually led to Wilde’s imprisonment. What many people don't know is that Douglas later went on to marry.

At the festival, I will present the fascinating yet almost entirely unknown story of Olive Custance (Lady Alfred Douglas) based on my research into her unpublished diaries and correspondence with Douglas. Olive Custance was a successful poet in her own right during the decadent 1890s.

She, like Douglas, enjoyed romantic liaisons with both men and women. Her correspondence with Douglas began in 1901, culminating in a dramatic elopement. But the marriage was ultimately an unhappy one, ending in separation and tragedy. Through telling the story of Olive and Bosie, I hope to convey how this remarkable couple redefined the norms of gender and sexuality of their time.

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