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Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde Paperback – January 7, 2014


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Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde + Oscar Wilde + Oscar Wilde's Wit and Wisdom: A Book of Quotations (Dover Thrift Editions)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus; 1 edition (January 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605985201
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605985206
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,215,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“Ms. Moyle is a strong advocate for her subject. She notes that Oscar's fairy tales center on themes of devotion and self-sacrifice, themes by which Constance lived her life.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“An illuminating biography.” (Colm Toibin - London Review of Books)

“Riveting. Moyle captures vividly the texture and color of this vital world.” (Independent on Sunday)

“Powerful, absorbing and, well, rather jolly.” (The Sunday TImes (London))

Customer Reviews

Constance emerges as an amazing woman of her age.
C & C from E8
The main problem for me, though, is that Constance Wilde simply seems a unremarkable person.
monica
I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in a good read into the Wilde family.
jane altobelli

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By C. Ferry on August 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A well written book on the life of Constance Wilde that kept me interested from beginning to end. That being said, there are several conclusions the author draws in the biography to which I found myself in strong disagreement. For example, Fanny Moyle states that in spite of his numerous homosexual affairs, Oscar Wilde "remained loyal and devoted to Constance...". How can one be "loyal and devoted" to one's spouse while having affairs? Ms. Moyle continues to mention Oscar's loyalty to Constance (until he was convicted in court) to the point that I wanted to say 'enough already!'. As another example, when the story continues into the 1890's with Oscar's increased recklessness in his double life, Ms. Moyle seems to put some blame on Constance by stating that had she stayed in their Tite Street home (in London) more often, things may have improved. Is this not blaming the victim? And she does not offer how this could have helped her husband's duplicity.
Some of the book's strongest points show Constance's heroic and humane nature during and after Oscar's incarceration. His behavior to his wife is truly shoddy, and in spite of the greatness of De Profundis and The Ballad of Reading Goal, and in spite of the suffering he endured in prison, he shows himself afterward to be shallow and petty. An impressive woman who endured a great deal during her relatively short life. Anyone interested in reading about "Mrs. Wilde", a too often forgotten victim (her children, too), will enjoy this book. Many interesting photos also.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By C & C from E8 on January 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
Here is a wonderful book about the world of Oscar and Constance Wilde that rescues him from queer icon status and restores a bit of much needed balance. Their marriage and the inspiration it offered both Oscar and Constance is a great and overlooked subject in the world of Wildeana. It makes him a far more interesting figure; and the editor of Woman's World, no less.. who would have thought? The skill of this book is how vividly that relationship is drawn, and the shared ambitions they had in turning Oscar into a phenomenon, almost a 'brand'. there's a whiff of Maclaren and Westwood about them. A feeling of the inevitability of the tragedy is kept at bay by good pacing and we are left with an understanding that sexual identity is a more subtle and slippery notion, especially in those days before the orthodoxy of gay and straight opposition took hold.

Constance emerges as an amazing woman of her age. Her occult dabblings particularly interested me. She isn't simply a victim nor always sympathetic; but you feel the reality of a family tragedy, and how a scandal lifts events out of the control of those involved.

A really terrific idea this book, and beautifully done.

Ernest Eight
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sewingphd on October 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was intrigued by the prospect of a biography of Constance Wilde, having read many of Oscar Wilde's works, and much about his life. I hoped that the book would paint Constance Wilde into a real person, but unfortunately, the author does not seem to have had enough material to do justice to her subject. From the beginning, there is more missing information than extant, and the author frequently indulges in speculations and suppositions--like supposing that Constance must have felt about a situation exactly like another female correspondant of Wilde's. There are few details about the Aesthetic movement, though it is mentioned frequently--someone withough prior knowledge will not get enough information to be tempted to read more on the topic. The worst fault, however, is that Constance never emerges as a real person. She exists as a paper doll in her own book, and certainly does not get the treatment promised in the title. She is pitiable at times, but never really real, and while we are told that she is admirable, we are not shown it. Add to this the fact that the edition is poorly edited and not terribly engaging, and you have a book I am sorry to have purchased.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Constance Lloyd may well have been relegated to shadowy figure status had this book not been written. The one and only wife of writer Oscar Wilde and an accomplished woman in her own right, to my knowledge this is the first book dedicated to Constance's brief and increasingly difficult life.
Authoress Franny Moyle was given access to Wilde family letters and pictures and has managed to flesh out and detail Constance's life in greater detail than I would have expected. Though often portrayed in a sympathetic light and rightfully so as Constance was a far more sensitive and compassionate soul than her husband, she is seen as a suffragette, social activist, and society maven who opened a salon for the avant garde figures of the London literary crowd of the late 19th century that were part of the Aesthetic Movement. In this respect, Moyle manages to provide a sense of what Constance's life was like before the scandal of the century broke and the family unit disintegrated completely and with great finality.
Despite reputation and social status pre-scandal, life with Wilde was never really carefree as Wilde notoriously lived beyond his means and as the darlings of their social crowd they had an image to maintain. As portrayed by Moyle, neither parent was home bound very often due to their diverse interests and Wilde's increasingly flamboyent behavior.This is where I take some issue with the author. Moyle implies that had Constance been home more and in effect accessible to Wilde he might not have strayed. For what it is worth, it seems important to note that little was known about homosexuality and Wilde supposedly had no sexual interest in his wife after the birth of their second child Vyvyan.
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Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde
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