|Constance Holland (previously Constance Wilde)|
Constance with her son Cyril in 1889
|Born||Constance Mary Lloyd
2 January 1859
|Died||7 April 1898
|Notable work(s)||There Was Once|
Constance Wilde (January 2, 1859 – April 7, 1898), born Constance Mary Lloyd, was the wife of Irish playwright Oscar Wilde and the mother of their two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan. The daughter of Horace Lloyd, an Irish barrister, and Adelaide Atkinson Lloyd, she married Wilde on May 29, 1884, and had both her sons within the next two years. In 1888 she published a book based on children's stories she had heard from her grandmother, called There Was Once. She and her husband were involved in the dress reform movement.
It is unknown at what point Constance became aware of her husband's homosexual relationships. In 1891 she met his lover Lord Alfred Douglas when Wilde brought him to their home for a visit. Around this time Wilde was living more in hotels than at their home in Tite Street and since the birth of their second son they had become sexually estranged. It is claimed that on one occasion, when Wilde warned his sons about naughty boys who made their mamas cry, they asked him what happened to absent papas who made mamas cry. Nevertheless, by all accounts, she and Wilde remained on good terms.
After Wilde's imprisonment, Constance changed her and her sons' last name to Holland to dissociate themselves from Wilde's scandal. The couple never divorced and though Constance visited Oscar in prison so she could tell him the news of his mother's death, she also forced him to give up his parental rights and later, after he had been released from prison, refused to send him any money unless he no longer associated with Lord Alfred Douglas.
A fall down the stairs in the Tite Street home she had shared with Wilde caused Constance to have a form of paralysis, and she died on April 7, 1898, after spinal surgery. She is buried in Genoa, Italy.
Moyle, Franny (2011). Constance: the Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde. John Murray.