Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas
There is little doubt that, at the beginning of their relationship in 1891, the celebrated playwright and his lover Lord Alfred Douglas (nicknamed "Bosie") adored each other. Sixteen years Wilde's junior, Bosie was, by all accounts, not an easy youth to love: others described him as "spoilt" and "selfish". But Wilde was greatly enamoured, penning him letters full of praise: "My Own Boy, Your sonnet is quite lovely, and it is a marvel that those red-roseleaf lips of yours should be made no less for the madness of music and song than for the madness of kissing." Their partnership enraged Bosie's father, the Marquess of Queensberry; believing that Wilde had corrupted his son, he began a campaign to discredit him, which indirectly led to Wilde being jailed for gross indecency. Miserable in prison, Wilde wrote De Profundis, in which he railed at Bosie for not supporting him sufficiently. The lament has destroyed Bosie's historical reputation, but the couple were partially reconciled, and reunited, after Oscar's release; the disgraced aesthete wrote: "My own Darling Boy... do remake my ruined life for me." Wilde died in exile in France, aged 46. The bitter Bosie survived him by 45 years and in later life would lambast his former lover. Yet while they lived they embodied an eternal romantic paradox: of the lovers who, no matter how much they hurt one another, cannot live without each other.