- Biography & Memoir
Hailed as a gay icon and champion of individualism, Oscar Wilde was also a staunch defender of gender equality. Indeed, women were central to his life and career, from his extraordinary mother Jane and sister Isola, to his accomplished wife Constance and a coterie of other free-thinking writers, actors and artists.
Wilde’s Women is the first book to tell the story of the female friends and colleagues with whom Wilde traded witticisms, who gave him access to vital publicity, and whose ideas he expressed in his social comedies. Here, Eleanor Fitzsimons reframes Wilde’s story and his legacy through the women in his life, including such fascinating figures as Florence Balcombe (who left him for Bram Stoker), the actress Lillie Langtry, and his tragic and witty niece Dolly. In the process, she reveals how Wilde played a vitally sympathetic role on behalf of many women, and how they supported him in the midst of a Victorian society on the cusp of change.
‘A remarkable book… the breadth and depth of research astonishing’ Emma Thompson
‘Engaging and sympathetic biography, which also illustrates extremely well the circles of artistic and literary women of the time’ Independent on Sunday
‘Over a century on, Oscar Wilde continues to hypnotise us… Eleanor Fitzsimmons is to be congratulated’ Simon Callow, Guardian
‘Lively new study… providing a broad cultural history of professional women’s lives in Wilde’s time’ The Irish Times