STANISLAUS ERIC, COUNT STENBOCK, Estonian poet and author of macabre fantastic fiction, born (d: 1895); In the London of Oscar Wilde, Count Stenbock was the only aesthete who could out-aesthete the great Oscar himself. One never knew what one would find at this house, where he wrote opium-induced poems and stories and where he kept a pet toad named Fatima and a lover picked up on a London bus.
Visiting Stenbock one day, Oscar Wilde dared to light a cigarette at the votive lamp before the bust of Shelley that his host venerated. This sacrilege caused Stenbock, in true dandy style, to fall to the floor in a dead faint. The unperturbed Wilde, in even truer dandy form, exhaled a puff of smoke, stepped over the prostrate body, and took his leave.
Stenbock lived in England most of his life, and wrote his works in the English language. He published a number of books of verse during his lifetime, including Love, Sleep, and Dreams, 1881, and Rue, Myrtle, and Cypress (1883). In 1894, Stenbock published The Shadow of Death, his last volume of verse, and Studies of Death, a collection of short stories that were good enough to be the subject of favorable comment by H.P. Lovecraft.