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date: 14 October 2019

Douglas, Lord Alfred

The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Literature in English

Jenny Stringer

Douglas, Lord Alfred (Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas) 


British poet, born near Worcester, educated at Winchester and at Magdalen College, Oxford. In 1891 he was introduced to Oscar Wilde by Lionel Johnson. Douglas's father, the Marquis of Queensbury, disapproved of the relationship which developed and precipitated the sequence of events leading to Wilde's imprisonment in 1895. Douglas's translation from the original French of Wilde's Salome appeared with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley in 1894. Poems (1896), his first collection of verse, was published in Paris. Subsequent volumes include The City of the Soul (1899), In Excelsis (1924), and Sonnets and Lyrics (1935). His work as a poet is highly conventional and often undistinguished. In addition to the lyrical and elegiac modes which predominate, he produced a substantial body of light verse. The sonnets he wrote in 1897 at his villa near Naples, where Wilde joined him following his release from prison, are his finest work. He edited the Academy from 1907 to 1910 and was jailed for a libel against W. S. Churchill in 1923. His uncharitable view of Wilde in Oscar Wilde and Myself (1914) was largely retracted in Oscar Wilde: A Summing Up (1940). His self-revealing Autobiography appeared in 1929. Bernard Shaw and Alfred Douglas: A Correspondence (ed. Mary Hyde, 1982) covers the period 1931 to 1945. Biographies include Lord Alfred Douglas (1984) by H. Montgomery Hyde.