LETTER:Wilde at heart

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I wish to take issue with your inclusion of Oscar and Constance Wilde in the feature entitled "Marriage is hell" (4 February). You quote a passage from Oscar Wilde by Frank Harris, the most unreliable of sources.

There is no indication in Wilde's letters, or from his associates at the time, that he felt any sense of distaste at Constance's pregnancy. In one letter, he is full of the joys of approaching fatherhood when he writes: "My wife has a cold, but will be over it in about a month. I hope it is a boy cold but will love whatever the gods send."

After the child was born he wrote ecstatically: "The baby is wonderful... Constance is doing capitally and is in excellent spirits." When his second son was born, he wrote to a friend: "I am sure you will be sorry to hear that I have been in great trouble. Our youngest son has been so ill that we thought he could never recover, and I was so upset over it that I have not left the house." This, again, does not indicate that Wilde felt any sense of disgust at his wife.

Rather than dismissing the relationship, it would seem more appropriate to quote a remark by Vyvyan Holland, Wilde's second son, that "My mother was a very beautiful woman and that she and my father were a devoted couple are facts beyond dispute."

anne dilley