Thursday, June 04, 2009

Bosie by Douglas Murray

Do we really care about the life of Lord Alfred Douglas? Oscar Wilde's nemesis did little interesting after carelessly ruining his friend. He wrote a number of exceedingly precious sonnets none of which were memorable, he developed an unfortunate appetite for litigation that ended in tears and jail for 6 months, and he even got married to a rather masculine looking woman. Murray's book takes a more sympathetic stance on Bosie than Ellmann does in his definitive life of Oscar Wilde.

It was extraordinary the sense of entitlement young aristocrats had in those days. He was always angling for an annuity that would keep him in the manner to which he was accustomed - and eventually got one from Shaw's widow. The notion of work was alien. He claimed to like pretty young boys and only succumbed to Wilde's grosser charms because he was a famous writer. And even then was very keen to establish the limited nature of their physical contact.

Far from being the effete figure he is often depicted as, Bosie was a keen angler, an excellent shot, and at one period he successfully trained racehorses.

The most remarkable thing about this book is that Murray started writing it when he was fourteen - and finished it when he was twenty. Precocious or wha'.