Robert Smithe Wilde

RobertSmithWildeRobert Smithe Wilde, aka musician Robert Wild, is the younger brother of Irish poet and writer Oscar Wilde.

From childhood, Robert matched his brother’s intellect, flamboyance in dress, and conversational prowess, but channeled his talents into music, writing his first song, entitled “Boys Don’t Cry”, when he was a mere four years old.

Oscar, six years old at the time, took credit for the song believing it could not have been written if he had not been the catalyst by pushing Robert off a settee and then chastising him when the boy began to weep. “Robert Smithe Wilde!” he is said to have said, “Boys don’t cry!”

Oscar’s propriety feelings towards his brother’s music never did cease, even when Robert relocated to America to pursue his music career. Oscar enjoyed publicly proclaiming  that he was the true source of Robert’s talent. Robert took Oscar’s claims  with a dose of brotherly good humor, even releasing his popular song “Pictures of You” in America to intentionally coincide with the British publication of Oscar’s only novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. Robert sent a gushing telegram of thanks to Oscar for the inspiration for the tune. Oscar’s return telegram said simply, “However far away, I will always love you. However long I stay, I will always love you. Whatever words I say, I will always love you.”

Robert remained loyal to his brother through Oscar’s tortuous trials and imprisonment, financially providing for Oscar’s wife Constance and their children. He continued to support his brother both emotionally and financially after Oscar’s release and subsequent ill health.

When Oscar died of meningitis, Robert was devastated. His eulogy to his brother included the lines, “This dream always ends. This feeling always goes. The time always comes to slip away. This wave always breaks. This sun always sets again. And these flowers will always fade. This world always stops. This wonder always leaves. The time always comes to say goodbye.”

After Oscar’s death, Robert returned to America to continue his career, but he always provided for Oscar’s widow and children, going so far as to leave his entire fortune to them upon his own death three years to the day after his beloved brother’s demise.

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Rudolph Shakespeare

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Rudolph Shakespeare is a cousin of the actor, poet and playwright William Shakespeare. Although close friends in the end, they did not meet face-to-face until both were thirty years of age, due to a family conflict that had spanned generations.

William’s great-great grandfather, Dunlop Shakespeare, and Rudolph’s great-great grandfather, Marcus Shakespeare, (Dunlop’s younger brother) began a feud in their boyhood that centered on a prized egg-laying hen.

The hen’s eggs were exalted in the brothers’ village for having enormous, proud, orange yolks that were compared to “the noonday sun”. But the hen was extremely vocal and Dunlop, preferring to start his day around 11am, was angered at being awoken by the unnamed hen soon after sunrise each day.

Marcus, who loved and cherished the hen and was an early riser, tried relocating the chickens’ pen farther back on the family’s property to allow his brother a later slumber, but chickens are creatures of habit and the hen would always roam back close to Dunlop’s bedroom window to begin her day with choral exuberance.

One early morning after a particularly rowdy evening of port and walnuts, Dunlop had enough of the boisterous hen and, grabbing his hatchet, he called to Marcus to meet him in the yard to “Cure the ill that is the chicken!” Marcus arrived just as Dunlop had dispatched with the task and the hen, now headless and running around in circles, was silent for the first time in her life.

Marcus was devastated and never ate another egg, or chicken, as long as he lived. He also never again spoke to his brother.

Decades later, his great-great grandson, Rudolph, wrote a letter of congratulations to his cousin William (Dunlop’s great-great grandson) on his many successes, and apologized for the family feud that led to their never having met. The cousins soon shared a tearful reunion and become the best of friends.

William immortalized their great-great grandfathers’ troubles in a line in his play As You Like It. “Truly, thou art damned, like an ill-roasted egg, all on one side!”

The family feud was laid to rest, and the entire surviving Shakespeare clan became civil once again.

Medgar Fallon Poe

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This is the writer Medgar Fallon Poe, the younger brother of Edgar Allan Poe.

Medgar was not highly esteemed amongst his peers because his poetry so closely resembled that of his famous brother. This passage from Medgar’s poem “The Pigeon” will probably feel rather familiar.

Once upon a radiant dawny
While I pondered, weak and scrawny
While I nodded, nearly snoring
Suddenly asleep upon the flooring

Some say that Medgar wasn’t a bad writer, he just didn’t have an original thought. Edgar preferred to overlook his younger brother’s plagiaristic tendencies and was once overhead saying, “I love my little brother. Medgar possesses many as-of-yet undiscovered talents. Writing may not be among them.”

Medgar’s life ended prematurely when he was shot through the left temple while drinking an ale at the corner pub. He’d been courting the gunman’s wife.

His last words, carved into his tombstone, were, “Quoth the Medgar, ‘Nevermore’.”