1867-03-15

LIONEL JOHNSON, British literary critic, born, (d: 1902); Johnson was an influential literary critic in his time and wrote, among other books, the first critical study of Thomas Hardy (1894). He was also the victim of one of the oldest ironies in the history of love.

He introduced his young lover to a friend who promptly walked off with him. The young lover was Lord Alfred Douglas; the friend, Oscar Wilde. Johnson’s poem, “The Destroyer of a Soul” (“I hate you with a necessary hate …”) is, naturally enough, directed to Wilde. Johnson lived only long enough to see Oscar get his, and at thirty-five, died of a fractured skull after falling off a bar stool.