Robbie Ross

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Robert Baldwin "Robbie" Ross (May 25, 1869 – October 5, 1918) was a Canadian journalist and art critic. He is best known as the executor of the estate of Oscar Wilde, to whom he had been a lifelong friend. He was also responsible for bringing together several great literary figures, such as Siegfried Sassoon, and acting as their mentor. His open homosexuality in a time when homosexual acts were illegal brought him many hardships.[2]

Contents

Biography

Early life

Ross was born in Tours, France. His father John Ross, though born in County Antrim, Ireland, spent most of his life in Upper Canada, where he became a lawyer and attorney-general in 1853 and was president of the Grand Trunk Railway from 1853 to 1862. His mother, Augusta Elizabeth Baldwin, was the daughter of Canadian Deputy Premier Robert Baldwin.

At Cambridge

As a young man, Ross moved to England to go to university. He was accepted at Cambridge but was the victim of bullying, probably due to his sexuality (of which he made no secret), and his perhaps outspoken journalism in the university paper. Ross caught pneumonia after a dunking in a fountain by a number of students with, according to Ross, the full support of a don, Arthur Augustus Tilley.[3] After recovering he fought for an apology from his fellow students, which he received, but more fiercely, for the dismissal of Tilley who, he argued, had known about and supported the bullying. The university refused to punish the man and Ross dropped out of university. Soon after this event, Ross decided to 'come out' to his family, a serious matter in the 1880s. He gathered them to hear the announcement not long after he left university.

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