The remarkable story of Robbie Ross, the young Canadian who first seduced Oscar Wilde in London, is a tribute to devoted friendship and loyalty in a late Victorian milieu in which duplicity and subterfuge were more the norm.
Ross not only helped Wilde discover his true nature but also stood by him during the playwright’s tempestuous relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, the scandal of the subsequent trials and the purgatory of imprisonment with hard labour. When Wilde was released from jail, Ross was waiting for him in France and endeavoured to manage his finances.
After Wilde’s death, as his literary executor, Ross steered the estate out of debt and worked tirelessly to restore Wilde’s shattered reputation and get definitive editions of his writings in print. But this only brought opprobrium down on Ross’s head from a jealous and vindictive ‘Bosie’ Douglas, who set out to ruin him.
“Fryer is perceptive about the era, its colorful personalities and perversities.”
“Jonathan Fryer should be congratulated for having the intelligence and humour to… reveal a fascinating minor character and all those great and small figures around him in their true light.”
“Fryer triumphs, offering, in 21st century queer terms, a popular account of Ross’s life.”