Wilde and Lord Alfred are less attractive in their pursuit of rent boys than they would be if they had been just knocking each other off as consenting private adults. Wilde however is rightly a gay martyr, his Soul of Man under Socialism is a manifesto that still attracts the artistic and romantic and though Wilde enjoyed the glamour of the aristocracy he lampooned it as well and was no snob. So the Marquess, pugilist, hard riding fox hunter and general sportsman, who wrote like the kind of deranged commenter that you would end up banning on a blog thread, seems an appropriate enemy for an aesthete.
But I did jib a bit at this piece by Jeannette Winterson:-
Wilde's fatal amour, Lord Alfred Douglas, was son of the Marquess of Queensberry, who was a bully, womaniser, gambling addict, cycling bore and amateur boxer (to him we owe the Queensberry rules). In his personal life there was no such thing as fair play. Queensberry was a vicious pugilist detested by his family. A caricature of masculinity, he loathed the cult of art and beauty that Wilde championed, and under the guise of saving his son from sodomy, he set about bringing down Wilde at the height of his fame."
Well, according to The Marquess of Queensberry: Wilde's Nemesis by Linda Stratmann his desire to save his son from sodomy wasn't a "guise" but genuine and thought of as reasonable by his contemporaries. He wasn't much of a gambler either, though his son and heir Percy, was. He was certainly a bully and also an obsessive - "monomaniac" as his contemporaries said.
But cycling bore? Queensberry did bang on about a lot of things, including his dislike of Christianity (he wanted an eco-burial) but where did Winterston get that?
According to Stramann when he was 49 he had given up riding horses and became a keen cyclist.
In an interview with the Westminster Gazette (April 1895) he said:-
No man was ever fond of riding or of horses that I have been but the only riding worth having is what you get in racing or in following hounds. Park riding and that sort of thing is not worth talking about. Well, I got tired of riding, and I have given it up, but from my experience of riding and cycling I say that cycling is the better and more useful exercise. I know nothing like it to keep one fit.
He had a cycling accident so could not attend Wile's first criminal trial.
He became president of the Bath Road Cycling Club and often accompanied members on their weekly runs. He frequently went out on a tandem.
He took part in a bicycle challenge in 1896, completing a 10 mile course in 35 minutes, 43 seconds - that's about 17 miles per hour - which doesn't sound that impressive.
He was twice fined 15 shillings for riding a bicycle on a footpath. (Evidently the police were more rigorous those days at enforcing regulations.) The second time was to avoid muddy roads.
Now that sounds like someone who loves cycling rather than a cycling bore. There's no mention that he talked about cycling all the time to people who weren't interested. Presumably he talked to members of the Bath Cycling Club about cycling - but then, they would have been interested. In the 1890s cycling was popular among the rich, until the wretches took up motoring and aviation.
"A caricature of masculinity, he loathed the cult of art and beauty that Wilde championed,." says Winterson. Queensberry seems to have been indifferent to art and beauty, except for beauty in women, horses and Nature. So you can call him a Philistine, and also a vile man who brought down a kind and talented man. But Winterson is showing her own Philistinism - that cycling in itself (which she presumably doesn't like) is an activity only for bores. Similar prejudices are held by modern aesthetes and progressives against sports - which was one of Norman Geras's themes. "It is . . a type of philistinism for those ignorant about sport to overlook the beauties and the excitements it can offer."