Suicide of Cyril Wilcox

On May 13, 1920, Cyril Wilcox, a Harvard undergraduate, completed suicide by inhaling gas in his parents' house in Fall River, Massachusetts. Newspaper reports called the death accidental. At the time Wilcox had been warned about his poor academic performance and had withdrawn from school for reasons of health. The night before his death, Wilcox had confessed to his older brother, George Lester Wilcox, himself a graduate of Harvard, that he had been having an affair with Harry Dreyfus, an older Boston man.

George, shortly after his brother's death, intercepted two letters to Cyril, one from Ernest Roberts, a Harvard student, and another from Harold Saxton, a recent graduate. Their candid and detailed gossip convinced him that Harvard was harboring a network of homosexual students. On May 22, George Wilcox located Dreyfus, extracted from him the names of three other men involved, and beat him. Later that day, he met with Harvard's Acting Dean Greenough and shared what he knew: his brother's admission, the contents of the letters, and what Dreyfus had told him.