May 31, 2003

N.B.: This is today’s second post of three.

I have known for ages and ages that Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for homosexual acts following his unsuccessful libel suit against the Marquess of Queensberry, disapproving father of Alfred, Lord Douglas, Wilde’s inamorato. The Marquess left a calling card for Wilde on February 18, 1895, on which he called Wilde a “posing Sodomite” (or perhaps accused him of “posing as a Sodomite”—the handwriting is unclear).

What I never knew until this very evening—why does no one tell me anything?—is that the Marquess of Queensberry didn’t actually call Wilde a “posing Sodomite”; he called him a “posing Somdomite.”

You can see the calling card here.

If somebody called me a Somdomite I would sue him for libel too.

Actually, I would sue him for double libel, because I am not a Somdomite; I am a camtamite.

I mean catamite.

Oh, hell.

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6 Responses to N.B.: This is today's second

  1. David says:


    Well maybe Oscar always fell asleep after sex with men?

  2. Hmm. In that case, I guess I am a Somdomite.

  3. Jon says:

    This is really odd because I was just watching a rerun of “Sports Night” on my TiVo and they were talking about the most important book ever on the subject of boxing – called the “Marquess of Queensberry Rules” written by someone called John Graham Chambers. What a strange coincidence!

  4. Mr.D. says:

    Like the opening line ” ‘Damn’, said the Duchess” (forget the author), Anthony Burgess’ “Earthly powers” grabs the attention with an opening line that’s something like “I was celebrating my 80th birthday with my catamite …” Haven’t happened across that word for quite some time (and admit it sent me scurrying for the dictionary, which never left my hand throughout the entire book reading). If you haven’t read it before, it’s rewarding hard work and darkly funny.

  5. Jon, it’s actually not such a coincidence—not only did the Marquess of Queensberry cause Mr. Wilde so many difficulties, but he also, with John Graham Chambers, invented the rules for modern boxing.

  6. Alex Elliott says:

    From the novel At Swim, Two Boys:

    “Are you telling me you are an unspeakable of the Oscar Wilde sort?”

    “If you mean am I Irish, the answer is yes.”


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