Dolly Wilde

Posted on October 9, 2010


Like her much more famous uncle, Dorothy Ierne Wilde was a great wit. Born in 1895, three months after Oscar Wilde’s arrest, her own father died when she wasn’t yet four. When she was just 19, she ran off to Paris to drive an ambulance during WWI, where she had an affair with fellow amubulance driver, Standard oil heiress Betty Carstairs. Her most famous relationship, however, was with writer Natalie Barney, with whom she was involved for 14 years (part of a complicated set of relationships that Barney had simultaneously with several other women at the same time, including artist Romaine Brooks and Duchess Elisabeth de Gramont).

Dolly Wilde was a great conversationalist and a popular figure in Parisian society of her day. She was famously addicted to heroin (among other addictions, including paraldehyde). Her wit is mostly preserved in letters and the writing of others.

Wilde died in 1941 of “unascertainable” causes.

Dolly Wilde has a page on Wikipedia, here. A chapter from her biography by Joan Schenker, Truly Wilde, can be read here.