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Constance Lloyd: The Tragic Life of Oscar Wilde’s Wife

Constance Lloyd was an Irish trailblazing women, feminist, and social activists in the 19th century. Today, however, she is sadly remembered mainly for being the wife of Irish author Oscar Wilde.

Constance Lloyd: Early Life & Childhood

She was born in 1858 to an English family living in Dublin, Ireland.

Constance Lloyd: Her Career

Lloyd’s was a famous and established writer in her own right prior to meeting Wilde.

She contributed to newspapers across Europe writing on topics that ranged from dress reform, suffragism, to children’s stories with an emphasis upon education for girls.

She was a vocal feminist in her time. She wrote plays, spoke publicly for education for girls, suffragism, and was a leading figure in the Dress Reform Movement. The movement sought to allow women to wear comfortable clothes in their everyday lives, and not just the stiff, large dresses that were fashionable at the height of the Victorian era.

She was also a political activist with the Liberal Party, and after spoke publicly about issues ranging from “the Irish Question” to women’s rights.

Constance Lloyd: Her Marriage & Life With Oscar Wilde

After a brief marriage to a civil servant, she met Wilde while he was also working as a journalist in London.

They were married in 1884 and had two sons together, Cyril and Vyvyan.

Wilde rose to fame as a playwright and poet in the late 1800s, but his career was cut short when he was convicted of “gross indecency” in 1895 and sentenced to two years in prison.

Lloyd remained loyal to her husband throughout his ordeal, even though their marriage was strained by Wilde’s infidelity.

After Wilde’s imprisonment, Lloyd moved to continental Europe living in Switzerland, Italy and France until her death.

She died on April 2nd, 1898 from what seems to be Multiple Scoliosis.

In 2022, it was announced that Emilia Clarke would play her in the film An Ideal Wife about Oscar Wilde’s trial.

Constance Lloyd: Changing Her Name To Holland After Wilde’s Imprisonment

After Wilde’s scandalous trail, Constance decided to change her surname to “Holland”.

Her brother, Otto, had adapted the surname previously, as he had debts back in Ireland and wanted to through the collectors off his track.

Contance, although she remained on good terms with Oscar, choose to change her surname to allow herself a fresh beginning abroad.

She also wished to protect her two sons, and allow them to grow up without the intense scrutiny that having the name “Wilde” would have with it.

Constance Wilde: Her & Oscar Wilde’s Remaining Descendant

It is interesting to note that there are living descendants that are direct dependents of Wilde and Lloyd.

The most of famous of them is Merlin Holland, who is the only direct grandson of Oscar Wilde and Constance Lloyd.

Further Reading:

Franny Moyle, Shameful agony of Oscar Wilde’s wife (Article in Express)

Franny Moyle, Constance (Book)

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