Even Today, Details Of Oscar Wilde's Sex Life Are Shockingly Explicit

Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde gained public attention in the latter part of the 1800s, notably in London. In the 21st century, Wilde is just as well known for his famous quotes as he is for his famous works, including The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest. What most people don't know is that the renowned playwright had intimate relations with young men.

Although Wilde was married to Constance Lloyd, he reportedly carried out a long-term affair with Lord Alfred Douglas - and he also regularly solicited teenage boys. Wilde went to jail for sodomy in England after a number of the teens testified against him. At that time, homosexuality was regarded as an unlawful offense, and he was found guilty of indecency. Wilde was imprisoned for two years, and many people speculate that the physical and mental strain was what caused Wilde's health to deteriorate so severely.

  • Wilde Targeted Teen Servants

    Walter Grainger was a 16-year-old servant in a house where Wilde stayed on his visits to Oxford. During Wilde's trial, Grainger testified that Wilde "placed his [shaft] between [Grainger's] legs and satisfied himself." Wilde then told Grainger he would be in "very serious trouble" if anyone found out about their private liaisons. 

    Defense attorney Edward Carson asked Wilde if he ever kissed Grainger, and Wilde replied, "O, no, never in my life [...] he was a peculiarly plain boy [...] his appearance was so very unfortunate - very ugly - I mean - I pitied him for it."

  • A Witness Saw A 14-Year-Old Boy In Wilde's Bed

    A Witness Saw A 14-Year-Old Boy In Wilde's Bed
    Photo: G.dallorto / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Margaret Cotta, a chambermaid at the Savoy Hotel, testified at Wilde's trial that while Wilde's lover Alfred Douglas was visiting, she discovered a 14-year-old boy in Wilde's bed. Cotta said that Wilde's sheets "were always in a most disgusting state... [with] traces of vaseline, soil and [male fluid]." Cotta also claimed that Wilde kissed the page boys who delivered newspapers then paid them for their "troubles."

    Gertrude Simmons, the governess to Wilde's sons, was also called as a witness at Wilde's trial. She saw Wilde "holding the arm of a boat boy called George Hughes and patting him very familiarly." She also read a letter from Wilde's long-time lover Alfred Douglas, where Douglas refers to himself as "[Wilde's] own loving darling boy to do what [he] likes with."

  • Wilde Seduced A 16-Year-Old On Family Vacation

    Wilde Seduced A 16-Year-Old On Family Vacation
    Photo: G.dallorto / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Alphonse Conway was 16 years old when Wilde visited Worthing, United Kingdom, in 1894. Over a month and a half, Wilde bought Conway gifts, including a cane with a silver top. Conway told authorities that Wilde touched him.

    The teen also reported that Wilde took him into the bedroom two or three times, where the pair stripped and lay in bed together.

  • Wilde Commonly Solicited Young Male Sex Workers

    Wilde Commonly Solicited Young Male Sex Workers
    Photo: G.dallorto / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    There was testimony in Wilde's trial from many young male workers in the sexual services industry, but their accounts were dismissed as unreliable. However, some of the men weren't pros, and the jury heard their testimony during Wilde's trial. Charles Parker and Alfred Wood, who were in their early 20s, accepted valuables from Wilde because they knew of his proclivities. Wilde gave the men expensive gifts, large sums of money, and paid for meals in exchange for their silence. Although the men were demanding money from Wilde, he said he was generous with them because he found them charming.

    Parker and Wilde met at a dinner where they drank. The pair then went to the Savoy Hotel, and "[Wilde] committed the act of sodomy upon [Parker]." Parker testified: "I was asked by Wilde to imagine that I was a woman and that he was my lover." He told the jury he had relations with Wilde at several different hotels and that the famous author commonly plied him with champagne before taking him home to perform "certain operations with his mouth." Similarly, Wood testified at Wilde's trial that Wilde visited his room, gave him alcohol, and engaged in intercourse.

    Because Wood and Parker were felons, Solicitor-General Sir Frank Lockwood worried that the jury would find their testimony less than credible. Therefore, he framed Wood and Parker's stories so it appeared the criminals only committed prohibited acts because they were initiated by a "sodomite."

  • He Dated A 15-Year-Old A Few Months Before His Death

    He Dated A 15-Year-Old A Few Months Before His Death
    Photo: Fernande / WIkimedia Commons / Public Domain

    After Wilde was released from prison in 1900, he fled to Paris and Italy where he lived out the rest of his life under an assumed name. According to Selected Letters of Oscar Wilde, the nearly 46-year-old playwright had an affair with a 15-year-old while he lived in Sicily during the last seven months of his life.

    Wilde wrote a letter detailing his relationship with Giuseppe Loverde. Wilde said of Loverde: "[F]ifteen and most sweet [...] He said he never would [forget me]: and indeed I don't think he will, for every day I kissed him behind the high altar."

  • Wilde Made Sexual Advances To Young Professionals In Town

    Wilde rented a cottage in Goring-on-Thames, where he often wrote. He invited apprentice electrician, Wallis Grainger, to stay with him. Grainger testified that while he was sleeping one night, Wilde woke Grainger and "worked [Grainger] up with his hand and made [Grainger] spend into [Wilde's] mouth."

    Wilde additionally attempted to court Fred Atkins, a 20-year-old. Wilde invited Atkins to Paris to serve as his secretary, but Atkins said the job only entailed "writing out [...] half a page of a manuscript, which took about 10 minutes." Atkins said Wilde spent the rest of their time together "[making] improper proposals."