Lord Ronald Gower

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Portrait of Lord Ronald Gower by Henry Scott Tuke, 1897

Lord Ronald Charles Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (2 August 1845 – 9 March 1916), known as Lord Ronald Gower, was a Scottish Liberal politician, sculptor and writer[1] from the Leveson-Gower family.


The youngest son of George, 2nd Duke of Sutherland by his wife Lady Harriet Howard, daughter of George, Earl of Carlisle, he was educated at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge.[2]

He was a Liberal Member of Parliament for Sutherland from 1867–1874, and was succeeded as MP by his nephew Cromartie, Marquess of Stafford (the elder surviving son of his eldest brother the 3rd Duke of Sutherland). He was a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery, and of the Birthplace and Shakespeare Memorial Building at Stratford-on-Avon.

Creative work[edit]

Gower's statue of Hamlet in Stratford-upon-Avon

A sculptor, he also published a number of works on the fine arts. His most important sculpture was the statue of Shakespeare and four of his principal characters, erected in Stratford-upon-Avon. He also created a sculpture depicting Marie Antoinette on her way to the scaffold and another of a member of the Old Guard at Waterloo.

He also wrote biographies of Marie Antoinette and Joan of Arc, and a history of the Tower of London.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Gower's lover Frank Hird, painted by Henry Scott Tuke.

He never married, and was well known among the homosexual community of the time. Oscar Wilde's story The Portrait of Mr. W. H. has been interpreted as a comment on Gower's social circle, and Gower is generally identified as the model for Lord Henry Wotton in The Picture of Dorian Gray.[4] In 1879 hints of his homosexual liaisons published in the journal Man of the World led Gower to sue the paper, but later in the year the Prince of Wales sent him a letter accusing him of being "a member of an association for unnatural practices", to which Gower wrote an angry reply.[4] John Addington Symonds, who stayed with him once, stated that Gower "saturates one's spirit in Urningthum [homosexuality] of the rankest most diabolical kind".[4] In 1890 he was implicated in the Cleveland Street Scandal.[5]

Gower's most notable lover was the journalist Frank Hird, a relationship that lasted to the end of his life. Gower adopted Hird as his son, leading Wilde to remark on one occasion, "Frank may be seen, but not Hird."[6]


  1. ^ "GOWER, Rt. Hon. Lord Ronald Sutherland-". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. p. 711. 
  2. ^ "Leveson-Gower, Lord Ronald Charles Sutherland (LV865LR)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  3. ^ https://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=9906E0D91F38E633A25753C1A9659C946796D6CF&oref=slogin
  4. ^ a b c David Getsy, Sculpture and the Pursuit of a Modern Ideal in Britain, C. 1880-1930, Asgate, London, 2004, p.64.
  5. ^ "The London Scandals", The Press (New Zealand), Volume XLVI, Issue 7418, 9 December 1889, Page 6, http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&cl=search&d=CHP18891209.2.40.2&
  6. ^ Hyde, H. Montgomery (1970), The Love That Dared not Speak its Name, Little, Brown, p. 156 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
David Dundas
Member of Parliament for Sutherland
Succeeded by
Marquess of Stafford