(1854-1900) Irish writer. Oscar Wilde was an Irish poet and dramatist, famous for The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray. His controversial, open lifestyle was the reason he was charged and eventually convicted for the crime of sodomy. His stint in prison destroyed him, leaving him a shadow of his former, vibrant self. Read more about the life and works of Oscar Wilde.
Oscar Wilde Birth:
Oscar O'Flahertie Fingal Wills Wilde was born on October 16, 1854. He was the second son of Sir William and Lady Jane Wilde (1820-1896). His father was a surgeon who once founded a hospital in Dublin, while his mother was a poet and journalist, active in the women's rights movement.
Oscar Wilde studied at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, at Trinity College, Dublin, and at Magdalen College, Oxford beginning in 1864. He received his BA in 1878.
Oscar Wilde Death:
Oscar Wilde died just three years after being released from prison in November of 1900. Historically, it was believed that Oscar Wilde died from syphilis, but more recent studies have reported that he died of a severe ear infection. According to Dr. Ashley Robins, with the University of Cape Town in South Africa, "Oscar Wilde died of meningoencephalitis secondary to chronic right middle-ear disease."
Marriage / Relationships:
In 1884, Oscar Wilde married Constance Lloyd, but the relationship ended in 1893. They had two sons.
Oscar Wilde's romantic relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas was also his downfall. The relationship left him vulnerable, and eventually resulted in charges of homosexuality. He was sentenced to two years of hard labor.
Quotes: The Picture of Dorian Gray:
"I knew that I had come face to face with some one whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature, my whole soul, my very art itself."
"He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize."
"There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written."
"I shall grow old, and horrid, and dreadful...If it was only the other way!.."
Quotes: The Critic as Artist:
"The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius."
"But what is the difference between literature and journalism? ... Journalism is unreadable and literature is not read. That is all."
"Every great man nowadays has his disciples and it is always Judas who writes the biography."
"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."
"There is no sin except stupidity."
"...nothing worth knowing can be taught."
Quotes: The Importance of Being Earnest:
"The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means."
"To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."
"London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years."
"The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!"
Works by Oscar Wilde:
- Lady Windermere's Fan (1893)
- A Woman of No Importance, produced by Beerbohm Tree (1893)
- An Ideal Husband (1899)
- The Importance of Being Earnest, produced by George Alexander (1899)
- Salomé (1896)
- Poems (1881)
- The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888)
- The Picture of Dorian Grey (1890, 1891)
- The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1890, 1895)
- Intentions (1891, 1913)
- Lord Saville's Crime and Other Stories (1891)
- The House of Pomegranates (1891)
- Poems in Prose (1894)
- Ballad of Reading Gaol (1899)
- De Profundis (1905)
- Collected Works (1908, 1909)
- Essays and Lectures (1913)
- Charmides and other poems (1919)
- The Letters of Oscar Wilde (1962)