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The mysterious death of Oscar Wilde’s wife has been solved

Nick Duffy January 3, 2015

The mystery surrounding the death of Oscar Wilde’s wife has finally been unravelled by the poet’s grandson.

The Irish writer’s spouse, Constance Lloyd, died just a few years after Wilde was jailed for “gross indecency” in 1895, over his numerous sexual encounters with men.

Mrs Lloyd died after of a mysterious illness in 1898 – and there has long been speculation of a conspiracy or cover-up.

However, the couple’s grandson Merlin Holland believes he has finally cracked the 117-year old mystery.

Mr Holland – whose family took the name ‘Holland’ at the time to disassociate itself from the Wilde controversy – believes his grandmother in fact died of undiagnosed multiple sclerosis.

Leading medical journal The Lancet published a paper this week on the claims, written by Mr Holland and Ashley H Robins, a medical specialist at the University of Cape Town.

Mr Holland has searched through the trove of more than 130 unreleased old family letters – and found the symptoms of the mysterious ailment – which eventually left her with excruciating head pain and unable to walk – closely match what is now known to be MS.

A combination of the MS and botched surgeries for other misdiagnosed ailments were responsible for the death – and not syphilis, or a mysterious poison, as has been speculated previously.

The pair wrote: “According to the unpublished correspondence of Constance and her brother, her 9-year illness was characterised by widespread pains, right leg weakness, tremor of the right arm, profound fatigue, and a left facial paralysis.

“For the first 7 years the clinical picture was dominated by intermittent acute episodes followed by extended periods of recovery; in the last 2 years her disability became permanent with gradual deterioration.

“A likely diagnosis is multiple sclerosis of the relapsing-remitting type that subsequently developed into secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.”

Mr Holland explained he wanted the paper to put an end to speculation, saying: “While my mother was alive, she didn’t particularly want anyone to have access to letters.

“She [was] frightened of what, in an age of sensationalising everything, someone might do with them.

“I rather feel it will put Constance to rest, poor thing.”

 

More: Constance Lloyd, Gay, grandson, Irish, Merlin Holland, Oscar Wilde, poet, wife

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