Doubtful as Men

How the effeminate Oscar Wilde was likened to women in 1882.

effeteDuring his lecture tour of America in 1882, Oscar Wilde was often described as effeminate.

It has often been thought that Oscar was acting the part of the effeminate; certainly, he was playing up to it: his dress and manner coinciding with the “namby-pamby” image of Bunthorne from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience that preceded him.

But, given our knowledge that Wilde continued to display the same effeminate sensitivities throughout his life, how much of his 1882 pose was an act?

Perhaps it is the case that rather than his being landed with an effeminate role, Wilde gravitated towards it.

Indeed, he portrayed his role so convincingly that, as we shall discover, the ever-anticipatory Wilde was conceptualized as female.


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