The story of the woman at the center of the most famous scandal of the nineteenth century.
In the spring of 1895 the life of Constance Wilde changed irrevocably. Up until the conviction of her husband, Oscar, for homosexual crimes, she had held a privileged position in society. Part of a gilded couple, she was a popular children's author, a fashion icon, and a leading campaigner for women's rights. A founding member of the magical society The Golden Dawn, her pioneering and questioning spirit encouraged her to sample some of the more controversial aspects of her time. Mrs. Oscar Wilde was a phenomenon in her own right. But that spring Constance's entire life was eclipsed by scandal. Forced to flee to the Continent with her two sons, her glittering literary and political career ended abruptly. She lived in exile until her death.
Franny Moyle now tells Constance's story with a fresh eye. Drawing on numerous unpublished letters, she brings to life the story of a woman at the heart of fin-de-siecle London and the Aesthetic movement. In a compelling and moving tale of an unlikely couple caught up in a world unsure of its moral footing, Moyle unveils the story of a woman who was the victim of one of the greatest betrayals of all time.
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Franny Moyle has a degree in English and History of Art from St John's College, Cambridge, and is the author of Desperate Romantics. She was a leading arts producer at the BBC, which culminated in her becoming the corporation's first Commissioner for Arts and Culture, and is now a freelance writer in London.From Booklist:
A new trend in biography is to profile the woman behind the man. In the case of the immensely talented and tragically infamous Oscar Wilde, that woman was the beautiful, intelligent, and forward-thinking Constance Lloyd Wilde. Although Oscar’s sexual preferences were decidedly male, his marriage, in many ways, was a union of like minds and mutual respect. Constance, an author in her own right, a proponent of the rational dress movement, and a budding spiritualist, was, like her husband, on the cutting edge of more liberal Victorian trends. After Oscar’s incarceration for gross indecency in 1895, she was forced to flee to the Continent, where she and her children lived in exile until her premature death at 39 in 1898. Moyle does a great job of setting the scene, firmly grounding her subject in a society and a social order teetering on the edge of a remarkable transformation that unfortunately arrived too late for herself and her family. --Margaret Flanagan
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