In January of 1891, 20-year-old Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas met the man with whom he would soon fall in love — Oscar Wilde. On April 1st of that year, disgusted by his son’s homosexual relationship with Wilde, Bosie’s father, the 9th Marquess of Queensberry, sent him the following threatening letter.
Bosie famously responded to his father’s letter with a telegram that simply read, “WHAT A FUNNY LITTLE MAN YOU ARE.”
Sadly, four years later, in May of 1895, Wilde was imprisoned for two years for “gross indecency,” following an unsuccessful attempt to prosecute his lover’s father for libel. Wilde was released in May of 1897 in ill health, and passed away in 1900.
It is extremely painful for me to have to write to you in the strain I must; but please understand that I decline to receive any answers from you in writing in return. After your recent hysterical impertinent ones I refuse to be annoyed with such, and I decline to read any more letters. If you have anything to say do come here and say it in person. Firstly, am I to understand that, having left Oxford as you did, with discredit to yourself, the reasons of which were fully explained to me by your tutor, you now intend to loaf and loll about and do nothing? All the time you were wasting at Oxford I was put off with an assurance that you were eventually to go into the Civil Service or to the Foreign Office, and then I was put off with an assurance that you were going to the Bar.
It appears to me that you intend to do nothing. I utterly decline, however, to just supply you with sufficient funds to enable you to loaf about. You are preparing a wretched future for yourself, and it would be most cruel and wrong for me to encourage you in this. Secondly, I come to the more painful part of this letter—your intimacy with this man Wilde. It must either cease or I will disown you and stop all money supplies. I am not going to try and analyze this intimacy, and I make no charge; but to my mind to pose as a thing is as bad as to be it. With my own eyes I saw you both in the most loathsome and disgusting relationship as expressed by your manner and expression. Never in my experience have I ever seen such a sight as that in your horrible features. No wonder people are talking as they are. Also I now hear on good authority, but this may be false, that his wife is petitioning to divorce him for sodomy and other crimes. Is this true, or do you not know of it? If I thought the actual thing was true, and it became public property, I should be quite justified in shooting him at sight. These Christian English cowards and men, as they call themselves, want waking up.
Your disgusted so-called father,