Caspar Wintermans
Bosie Biographer


CASPAR WINTERMANS has edited and authored a number of books related
to Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas, including Halcyon Days: Contributions to 'The
Spirit Lamp'; Oscar Wilde: A Plea and a Reminiscence
; and Alfred Douglas: A
Poet's Life and His Finest Work
. Other volumes include Dear Sir: Letters of Mr.
and Mrs. Couperus to Oscar Wilde
and I Desire The Moon: The Diary of Lady
Alfred Douglas
. He is currently working on an edition of Bosie's correspondence.

"Caspar Wintermans' knowledge of Lord Alfred
Douglas's life is second to none."

~Merlin Holland (grandson of Oscar Wilde)


Published Volumes in English


"An excellent book full of brilliant and original insights
that makes a real contribution to the subject."

~Thomas Wright

Caspar Wintermans' eagerly awaited and somewhat controversial recent biography of Lord Alfred Douglas sets out to defend Oscar Wilde's beloved 'Bosie' from over a century of false accusations, lies and misinformation. Wintermans makes the case to prove that Alfred Douglas was in fact a supportive and kind lover who worshipped the playwright and whose subsequent life was destroyed. The biography is also accompanied by a long overdue anthology of Douglas' poetry, Alfred Douglas: A Poet's Life and His Finest Work is now available from Peter Owen Publishers, and is ISBN: 0720612705. Please click HERE for more information on the volume and how to obtain it.


Oscar Wilde: A Plea and a Reminiscence is edited by Caspar Wintermans, who writes the introduction to the never-before-published article Lord Alfred Douglas wrote in defense of Oscar Wilde. This was originally intended for the August 1895 edition of Mercure de France, but ultimately not published. The piece was nothing if not outspoken and included love letters from Wilde to Douglas whch, according to their recipient, "rank among the most magnificent the world has ever seen." It serves to offer yet more proof of Bosie's loyalty to the disgraced Wilde, and is followed by the rarely seen reminiscences by Douglas of Oscar Wilde's last years in Paris, which originally appeared in the St. James's Gazette in 1905. The book is 53 pages in length and contains two illustrations in an edition limited to 250 copies, ISBN 0980731412. Price: 75 euros. To order, contact author Caspar Wintermans directly HERE.


I Desire The Moon: The Diary of Lady Alfred Douglas (Olive Custance) is a special edition volume edited and notated by Caspar Wintermans, and is limited to just 195 copies. Illustrated with photographs. Olive Eleanor Custance (1874-1944) was a British poet and a part of the aesthetic movement of the 1890s, as well as a contributor to The Yellow Book. In 1902, and after a relationship with Natalie Clifford Barney in Paris in 1901 and an engagement to George Montagu, she married Lord Alfred Douglas, who was notorious for his affair with Oscar Wilde. They had one child together in a stormy marriage, separating in 1913, but again living together for a time in the 1920s. The book is 118 pages in length and is illustrated with photographs, ISBN 9080731447. Price: 95 euros. To order, contact author Caspar Wintermans directly HERE.


Halcyon Days: Contributions to 'The Spirit Lamp' is a special edition volume edited by Caspar Wintermans. It is limited to just 100 copies printed letterpress in green boards by Typographeum publishers. This book contains the contributions of Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas to the The Spirit Lamp, the Oxford University undergraduate periodical also edited by the poet during his school days. The book is 41 pages, ISBN 0930126491. Price: $60 US. To order, contact the printer and bookseller Terry Risk by clicking HERE.


Exclusive Interview


Q: When and how did you come to learn about Lord Alfred Douglas?

A: It was in January of 1987 when I came across a novel by one Oscar Wilde called The Picture of Dorian Gray, a modern reprint with an introduction that mentioned the author’s tumultuous friendship with Lord Alfred Douglas. I had heard of these two people previously, as sometime before Dutch television had broadcast the wonderful BBC television series about Oscar Wilde starring Michael Gambon. I had also read a review published in a Dutch magazine about Montgomery Hyde's biography of Bosie. It struck me, when reading that review (and I was still in High School) that there was so much animosity toward Lord Alfred. I went to the Royal Library in The Hague where I not only fetched a copy of the 1896 Poems by Lord Alfred Douglas but also the biography of Bosie written by Rupert Croft-Cooke.

Q: What led you to write the new biography, Alfred Douglas: A Poet’s Life and his Finest Work?

A: As I continued to read about Oscar and Bosie I discovered that as much as I admired and was fascinated by the former, the latter was at least as interesting—a person who had gotten bad press, who many people failed to understand because they could not put themselves in his position. Besides, I was very much fascinated by his poetry. It is my firm belief that when the personality of Lord Alfred Douglas is better understood, people will be able to approach his poetry with much more fairness. I have come across more persons than one who say that, "Oh, he wasn’t a great poet." If you go on questioning them it becomes clear that they haven’t read his poetry at all, but remember De Profundis in which Wilde speaks about Bosie’s "undergraduate verse." This is their source of information! One of the nice things about being Bosie’s biographer is that during literary talks in theatres and libraries I’ve been able to see people respond to his magnificent poetry. We owe it to his memory to set things straight without denying that, of course, he had his faults. So did Oscar Wilde. In my experience people are much more inclined to give Oscar the benefit of the doubt and to doubt anything which Bosie has said. In the course of my research I have come across many things which show that Bosie was brave and a good man.

Q: Don’t you think it’s remarkable that so early in his life Bosie was willing to admit, in print, his true feelings for Oscar? Then later, he made such a complete change in his attitudes. I am thinking of what he wrote in Oscar Wilde and Myself from 1914.

A: De Profundis, written at a time when Oscar was, understandably, under great emotional stress, provides us with a caricature of Lord Alfred. It is one of history’s great ironies that when Bosie finally came to read it in 1912 it turned him into the caricature. He went through a very dark phase which lasted for many years. I think there are good reasons why Bosie was so open in 1896 and so much otherwise later on. When he converted to Catholicism, he really wanted to follow the Church's moral teachings and therein lays the problem. Had the Church been different as far as their attitudes toward gays are concerned, it would probably have been another story. But you could not, in 1914—in a book published in England—admit that you once were a practicing homosexual! That was out of the question. We cannot imagine that perhaps nowadays, but that's how it was then. At that time Bosie really wanted to break with his past. He had discussed it in the confessional with the priest who received him in the Catholic Church, and was determined to make a new start in his life. So many gay people have tried to do this; very few successfully. As a convert to Catholicism, Douglas thought that he must follow the church’s teachings on sexuality—there was no other choice. To call him a hypocrite for that reason seems unfair to me. He has a line in his Autobiography which I think is true, he said, "I have been orthodox all my life. In my younger years I was an orthodox pagan and later I was an orthodox Christian," adding that it was not his business to judge or to condemn anyone else. He had judged and condemned other people, but had come to realize that he should not have done so.

So, it is very peculiar situation that Lord Alfred Douglas, on the one hand, may be truly called a pioneer and gay icon; while on the other, we have got this change of attitude in his later life which many people find difficult to stomach. This is especially true of those who are homosexual themselves and who fail to see what made him behave as he did. Those who particularly dislike Douglas are very often great admirers of Oscar Wilde. I say to these people, "Don’t you understand that the rehabilitation of Lord Alfred Douglas is also a good turn done to Oscar Wilde? If you are a fan of Oscar Wilde, you must be pleased to learn that Wilde did not squander his affections on a worthless person."

Q: Following the death of Oscar Wilde, Bosie married Olive Custance in 1902. What do you suppose attracted them to each other?

A: Just as Bosie had relationships with men, Olive had relationships with women. I think they met one another on the 'borderland of the sexes.' She liked his poetical qualities and was very much attracted to him physically, just as he was to her. She called him 'prince' and he called her 'princess.' They were both practicing romantics, who loved each other very much. Bosie is quite right when in his Autobiography he says that it was Olive who chased him, more than he who chased her; their correspondence, which I hope to publish sooner rather than later, tells us as much. Bosie rather liked being chased, just as he had been chased by Oscar Wilde before. Let’s face it; these people are a little bit narcissistic! They were attractive, they knew it and they relished it, and I say who can blame them?

Q: What kinds of new information are you bringing forward with your book?

A: I quote from unpublished correspondence and contemporary newspapers and I believe I have solved the mystery of De Profundis—that is to say, whether Bosie himself ever received a typescript during Wilde’s lifetime, or not. People who are very fond of Robert Ross will not much like my book, I fear, as I put forward the view that he did not behave very well—as far Bosie was concerned. Of course, I encourage everyone to get a copy of the book and read the conclusions for themselves.

Q: What is the one thing that you would like your readers to take away with them, from your book?

A: I am in the happy position to offer readers not only the life story of Lord Alfred Douglas, but an ample, annotated selection of his poetical works as well. If the public would appreciate him for the poet he was, I think I will have achieved something. And if they will understand him better and give up their up their prejudices against him I will be very pleased! I wish he would no longer be looked upon as simply the sum total of his mistakes. His poetry constitutes a testament beauty. It is his gift to us. To lead happy lives we need fine poetry just as much as good music and fine paintings. Art is of great importance. Bosie wrote his poems because he had something to say, he wanted to share his impressions of what is beautiful and he did so very well. In his poetry you find the best of his personality; his love for other people, his love for nature, his love for literature and beauty, his religious feelings. He was a great poet and I really hope that many people will be as much delighted by his work as I have always been.


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