Hotty from History #28 Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas (22 October 1870 – 20 March 1945)
Known far and wide as Bosie, this chap is long overdue for introduction into our hotty hall of fame.
- He was born into a wealthy but rather eccentric noble family. His uncle Lord James Douglas fell in love with his own twin sister, became an alcoholic when she married and eventually committed suicide. Other uncles included one who died while climbing the Matterhorn and another who became a priest. His aunt (the aforementioned twin sister) Lady Florence Douglas was a thoroughly good influence on young Bosie however, being a feminist, suffragette and war correspondent during the Boer War. She later wrote a novel about a woman elected into the House of Commons, by dressing as a man - this male role is based on Oscar Wilde.
- He attended University at Oxford, that wonderful British institution. However, he spent all his time writing for the college newspaper and editing racy novels, so dropped out without earning a degree. There is something about being a rebel that really appeals to us here at HFH.
- He was one of the many Bright Young Things from the late 19th Century who had a fluid sexuality. His own brother died in mysterious cicumstances after reputedly having an affair with the Prime Minister, Lord Roseberry. To appear “straight” to the public, many of these chaps and flopsies married, only to have illicit affairs with one another. Which I can only applaud.
- Frankly, he was a complete and utter cad, rogue and ruffian. Bosie and Oscar were in a constant cycle of messy break-up and passionate reconciliation, and all the while Bosie spent Wilde’s money on rent boys and gambling. When Wilde commissioned Bosie to translate his manuscript of Salome into English, Bosie’s french was so bad that poor Oscar had to translate the whole novel again himself, and the pair fell out when Bosie stubbornly refused to accept his efforts were so half-hearted that his version of Salome made little sense.
- Eventually Bosie was the weapon of Oscar’s downfall, by inciting a lawsuit between Oscar and his father, the Marquess of Queensberry. When Queensberry threatened to cut off Bosie’s allowance and inheritance, Bosie replied with a postcard saying only “what a funny little man you are”. He also refused to dispose of letters and photos of himself and Oscar, which were later used as evidence of Wilde’s homosexuality -
- Amazingly it wasn’t Queensberry who started the lawsuit, but Wilde (persuaded by Bosie) who had his father arrested for having the audacity of calling Wilde a homosexual. Thanks largely to Bosie’s carelessness, the trial changed course and Oscar was convicted of just that!
So here’s to Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas - Muse to one of the foremost authors and poets, all-round git and total stunner - We at HFH salute you sir!
Salomé is a play, but this whole thing is simply lovely of you!