Oscar Wilde
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005


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Oscar Wilde (Fingal O'Flahertie Wills)—Playwright

October 16, 1854, 3:00 AM, Dublin, Ireland. (Source: according to LMR, Fagan quotes baptismal certificate, in American Astrology, September, 1963 Rectified to 2:38 AM) Died (of encephalitis) on November 30, 1900, Paris, France.

(Ascendant, Virgo; MC, Gemini with Saturn in Gemini; Sun in Libra conjunct Juno in Libra with Venus also in Libra; Moon in Leo;  Mercury in Scorpio widely conjunct both Vesta and the PF also in Scorpio; Mars in Sagittarius conjunct the IC; Jupiter in Capricorn; Uranus in Taurus widely conjunct NN in Taurus, with Pluto also in Taurus; Neptune in Pisces conjunct DSC)


A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.

A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone's feelings unintentionally.

A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.

A man can't be too careful in the choice of his enemies.

A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction.

A poet can survive everything but a misprint.

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.

A true friend stabs you in the front.

A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.

Ah, well, then I suppose I shall have to die beyond my means.

All art is quite useless.

All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.

All that I desire to point out is the general principle that life imitates art far more than art imitates life.

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.

Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much.

Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds.

Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.

America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.

An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.

Arguments are extremely vulgar, for everyone in good society holds exactly the same opinion.

Arguments are to be avoided: they are always vulgar and often convincing.

Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.

As long as a woman can look ten years younger than her own daughter, she is perfectly satisfied.

As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.

As yet, Bernard Shaw hasn't become prominent enough to have any enemies, but none of his friends like him.

At 46 one must be a miser; only have time for essentials.

Beauty is a form of genius - is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon.

Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.

Between the optimist and the pessimist, the difference is droll. The optimist sees the doughnut; the pessimist the hole!

Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same.

Biography lends to death a new terror.

By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.

Charity creates a multitude of sins.

Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.

Children have a natural antipathy to books - handicraft should be the basis of education. Boys and girls should be taught to use their hands to make something, and they would be less apt to destroy and be mischievous.

Conscience and cowardice are really the same things. Conscience is the trade-name of the firm. That is all.

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

Deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.

Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.

Do you really think it is weakness that yields to temptation? I tell you that there are terrible temptations which it requires strength, strength and courage to yield to.

Each class preaches the importance of those virtues it need not exercise. The rich harp on the value of thrift, the idle grow eloquent over the dignity of labor.

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.

Everything popular is wrong.

Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.

Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.

Fathers should be neither seen nor heard. That is the only proper basis for family life.

Hatred is blind, as well as love.

He hadn't a single redeeming vice.

He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.

He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realise.

He must have a truly romantic nature, for he weeps when there is nothing at all to weep about.

He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time.

How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being.

I am not young enough to know everything.

I can resist everything except temptation.

I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.

I dislike arguments of any kind. They are always vulgar, and often convincing.

I have nothing to declare except my genuis.

I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.

I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works.

I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.

I see when men love women. They give them but a little of their lives. But women when they love give everything.

I suppose society is wonderfully delightful. To be in it is merely a bore. But to be out of it is simply a tragedy.

I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.

I want my food dead. Not sick, not dying, dead.

If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.

If one could only teach the English how to talk, and the Irish how to listen, society here would be quite civilized.

If one plays good music, people don't listen and if one plays bad music people don't talk.

If there was less sympathy in the world, there would be less trouble in the world.

If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.

Illusion is the first of all pleasures.

In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane.

In America the President reigns for four years, and Journalism governs forever and ever.

In America the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.

In England people actually try to be brilliant at breakfast. That is so dreadful of them! Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.

In every first novel the hero is the author as Christ or Faust.

In married life three is company and two none.

It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information.

It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.

It is better to be beautiful than to be good. But... it is better to be good than to be ugly.

It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.

It is only an auctioneer who can equally and impartially admire all schools of art.

It is perfectly monstrous the way people go about, nowadays, saying things against one behind one's back that are absolutely and entirely true.

It is through art, and through art only, that we can realise our perfection.

It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.

Its failings notwithstanding, there is much to be said in favor of journalism in that by giving us the opinion of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.

Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one.

Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.

Life is a pilgrimage. The wise man does not rest by the roadside inns. He marches direct to the illimitable domain of eternal bliss, his ultimate destination.

Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.

Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.

Life is too important to be taken seriously.

Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us.

Men always want to be a woman's first love - women like to be a man's last romance.

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.

Most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.

Mrs. Allonby: No man does. That is his.

Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.

Music makes one feel so romantic - at least it always gets on one's nerves - which is the same thing nowadays.

My great mistake, the fault for which I can't forgive myself, is that one day I ceased my obstinate pursuit of my own individuality.

No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.

No man is rich enough to buy back his past.

No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.

No woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating.

Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.

Nothing is so aggravating than calmness.

Nothing makes one so vain as being told one is a sinner. Conscience makes egotists of us all.

Now that the House of Commons is trying to become useful, it does a great deal of harm.

Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out.

Of course America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been hushed up.

One can survive everything, nowadays, except death, and live down everything except a good reputation.

One of the many lessons that one learns in prison is, that things are what they are and will be what they will be.

One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry.

One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards.

One's past is what one is. It is the only way by which people should be judged.

Only the shallow know themselves.

Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.

Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.

Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.

Perhaps, after all, America never has been discovered. I myself would say that it had merely been detected.

Pessimist: One who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both.

Questions are never indiscreet, answers sometimes are.

Relations are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven't got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die.

Self-denial is the shining sore on the leprous body of Christianity.

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.

Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.

She wore far too much rouge last night and not quite enough clothes. That is always a sign of despair in a woman.

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.

Some of these people need ten years of therapy -ten sentences of mine do not equal ten years of therapy.

Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.

The basis of optimism is sheer terror.

The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.

The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.

The English country gentleman galloping after a fox - The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.

The General was essentially a man of peace, except of course in his domestic affairs.

The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.

The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it's dead for you.

The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.

The one charm about marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.

The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it... I can resist everything but temptation.

The past is of no importance. The present is of no importance. It is with the future that we have to deal. For the past is what man should not have been. The present is what man ought not to be. The future is what artists are.

The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything. Except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.

The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.

The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.

The salesman knows nothing of what he is selling save that he is charging a great deal too much for it.

The security of Society lies in custom and unconscious instinct, and the basis of the stability of Society, as a healthy organism, is the complete absence of any intelligence amongst its members.

The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.

The truth is rarely pure and never simple.

The typewriting machine, when played with expression, is no more annoying than the piano when played by a sister or near relation.

The world has grown suspicious of anything that looks like a happily married life.

The world is divided into two classes, those who believe the incredible, and those who do the improbable.

There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating - people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing.

There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.

There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, theother is to read Pope.

There is no sin except stupidity.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written.

There is no such thing as an omen. Destiny does not send us heralds. She is too wise or too cruel for that.

There is nothing in the world like the devotion of a married woman. It is a thing no married man knows anything about.

There is nothing so difficult to marry as a large nose.

There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

These days man knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.

They afterwards took me to a dancing saloon where I saw the only rational method of art criticism I have ever come across. Over the piano was printed a notice- 'Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best.'

This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.

Those whom the gods love grow young.

To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.

To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

To regret one's own experiences is to arrest one's own development. To deny one's own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one's life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.

True friends stab you in the front.

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

What we have to do, what at any rate it is our duty to do, is to revive the old art of Lying.

When a man has once loved a woman he will do anything for her except continue to love her.

When a woman marries again it is because she detested her first husband. When a man marries again, it is because he adored his first wife. Women try their luck; men risk theirs.

When good Americans die they go to Paris.

When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.

When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers.

Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.

Why was I born with such contemporaries?

Woman begins by resisting a man's advances and ends by blocking his retreat.

Women are made to be loved, not understood.

Women are never disarmed by compliments. Men always are. That is the difference between the sexes.

Work is the curse of the drinking classes.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves, by each let this be heard, some do it with a bitter look, some with a flattering word. The coward does it with a kiss, the brave man with a sword!


Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin on 16 October 1854. His father, Sir William Wilde, was an eminent Dublin surgeon and his mother, Jane Francesca Elgee, agitated for Irish Independence and wrote revolutionary poems under the pseudonym "Speranza".
In 1864 Wilde went to the Portora Royal School where he excelled in the classics, taking top prizes. He was awarded the Royal School Scholarship to Trinity College in Dublin where he earned a Foundation Scholarship. In 1874, he won the college's Berkeley Gold Medal for Greek and was awarded a Demyship scholarship to Magdalen College in Oxford. There Wilde was awarded the Newdigate prize for his poem, Ravenna, and a First Class in both his "Mods" and "Greats. After graduation, he moved to London. In 1881, he published his first collection of poetry, Poems, which received mixed reviews by critics.
In 1881 and 1882 Wilde travelled across the United States giving over 140 lectures in 260 days. He spent the next couple of years in Britain and France, championing 'Art Nouveau'-essentially the Aesthetic, art for art's sake movement. In 1884, he married Constance Lloyd. They had two sons, Cyril in 1885 and Vyvyan in 1886. He worked on The Woman's World magazine in 1887-1889. In the following six years he published two collections of childrens stories, The Happy Prince And Other Tales (1888), and The House Of Pomegranates (1892). His first and only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was considered very immoral by the Victorians. The first of his witty and scandalous plays, Lady Windermere's Fan, opened in February 1892 to critical acclaim. His subsequent plays included A Woman Of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband.(1895), and The Importance Of Being Earnest (1895).
His friendship with Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas, the third son of the Marquis of Queensberry, was to prove his undoing. In 1895, Wilde sued Bosie's father for libel as the Marquis had accused him of homosexuality. Although he withdrew the case he was himself arrested, convicted of gross indecency and sentenced to two years hard labour. His long, poignant and revealing letter, now known as De Profundus, written from prison to Alfred Douglas, was not published in full until 1962.
On his release, he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol, a response to the agony he experienced in prison. He spent the last three years of his life wandering Europe. He died of meningitis on November 30, 1900 and was buried in Bagneux. His remains were later transferred to the National Cemetery of Pere Lachaise in Paris, where, on the back of the ornate Epstein Tomb, is carved part of a verse from his last work..
"And alien tears will fill for him
Pity's long-broken urn
For his mourners will be outcast men
And outcasts always mourn."
Location of plaque: Portora Royal School, Enniskillen.
Date unveiled: 13 February 2003

A life in dates
1854 16 Oct., born Dublin, second legitimate son of William Robert Wilde, physician and surgeon and Jane Elgee, Irish nationalist poet, known as Speranza. Christened, in Protestant ritual, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde.1855 The Wilde family moves to fashionable No 1 Merrion Square, Dublin, where Lady Wilde starts a salon.
1856 Birth of sister, Isola.
1864 Father knighted.
Oscar and his older brother Willie sent to Portora Royal School, Enniskillen.
1867 Isola, Wilde's much loved sister dies.
1870 Wins Carpenter Prize for Greek Testament studies.
1871 10 Nov., Enters Trinity College, Dublin.
1873 Awarded a Trinity College, Dublin Foundation Scholarship.
1874 Wins Berkeley Cold Medal for Greek; takes scholarship examination for Magdalen College, Oxford and wins Demyship.
Oct., goes up to Oxford; attends Ruskin's lectures and joined in his roadbuilding activities at Hinksey.
1875 Joins a Masonic Lodge; comes close to conversion to Roman Catholicism.
Travels to Italy during his vacation.
1876 Death of Sir William Wilde.
Gains First Class in Honours in Moderations (second year examinations).
1877 Prolonged vacation in Greece with Professor Mahaffy of T.C.D., returning via Rome. Visits the Palazzo Rossi, Genoa to see Guido Reni's painting St. Sebastian.
Rusticated for six months because of late arrival back in Oxford. Spends 10 days in London, reviews the Grosvenor Gallery then returns to Dublin. July, first article published, 'The Grosvenor Gallery', in Dublin University Magazine. Meeting with Walter Pater, on return to Oxford.
Works on long poem, The Sphinx, begun 1874.
1878 His poem Ravenna won the Newdigate Prize.
Gains a First in Greats (Final examination).
1879 Failing to get a Classical Fellowship at Oxford, Wilde concentrates on London's intellectual and political society, developing a friendship with Lillie Langtry and getting to know Ellen Terry, Sarah Bernhardt, and other leading actresses. Shares bachelor quarters with Frank Miles in Salisbury Street, Strand.
Lady Wilde moves to London.
1880 With Miles moves to the more fashionable address of Tite Street, Chelsea, which had been redesigned by E.W. Godwin.
Sept., sends Ellen Terry a copy of his first play Vera.
1881 Satirized as Reginald Bunthorne in Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera.
First volume of Poems published in England and America.
Rehearsals of Vera cancelled because of politically sensitive situation.
1882 Jan - Dec., lecture tour of Great Britain and Canada. (Lectures on 'The England Renaissance', 'The House Beautiful' and 'The Decorative Arts'.)
1883 Feb. - May, went to Paris, where he met painters (Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Giuseppe de Nittis, Jacques-Émile Blanche and John Sargent), writers (Victor Hugo, Edmond de Goncourt, Alphonse Daudet, Paul Bourget, Émile Zola, Maurice Rollinat and Paul Verlaine) and actors in a crowded social life and writes The Duchess of Padua.
Aug., production of Vera in USA.
Sept., begins lecture tour of USA.
Nov., engaged to Constance Lloyd while lecturing in Dublin.1884 29 May, marriage to Constance Lloyd. Honeymoon in Paris. Wilde reads Huysman's A Rebours on its first appearance.
1885 The couple settles in a house in Tite Street, decorated by E.W. Godwin.
20 Feb., Whistler's Ten O'Clock Lecture, attacking Wilde, who replies in two articles in The Pall Mall Gazette.
5 June, birth of Cyril Wilde.1886 Meets Robert Ross, then 17, In Oxford.
According to Ross, this was Wilde's first homosexual affair.
3 Nov., birth of Vyvyan Wilde.1887 Nov., assumes editorship of The Lady's World, changing the journal's title to The Woman's World and raising its quality.
Writes many reviews.
1888 Attends meetings of socialist Fabian Society.
May, publishes The Happy Prince and Other Tales.
1889 Meets W.B. Yeats.
Jan., 'Pen, Pencil and Poison' appears in Fortnightly Review and 'The Decay of Lying' in The Nineteenth Century.
Gives up editorship of The Woman's World.
1890 July and Sept., 'The Critic as Artist' published in The Nineteenth Century.
June, The Picture of Dorian Gray published in Lippincott's Magazine.
1891 The Duchess of Padua presented in USA, under the title Guido Ferranti, without an author's name.
Visits Paris, meets Mallarmé, as well as Rothenstein and Conder.
Publishes two volumes of stories, a book of critical essays Intention, The Picture of Dorian Gray (in expanded book form), and 'The Soul of Man under Socialism' in the Fortnightly Review.
Writes Lady Windermere's Fan and much of Salomé (in French).
Late June, introduced to Lord Alfred Douglas by Lionel Johnson.
July, first meeting with Aubrey Beardsley.
Oct.-Dec., visits Paris.
1892 Production of Lady Windermere's Fan.
Salomé banned from public performance in England.
1893 Production of A Woman of No Importance.1894 An ideal Husband finishes.
A Florentine Tragedy and most of La Sainte Courtisane written.
The Sphinx published, illustrated by Ricketts.
Aug.-Oct., writing The Importance of Being Earnest while at Worthing with Constance and their sons.
Some of Wilde's letters to Lord Alfred Douglas come into the hands of Douglas's father, the Marquess of Queensberry.
Sept., publication of Robert Hichens's scandalous novel, The Green Carnation, based on the Wilde circle.
1895 3 Jan., production of An Ideal Husband opens.
14 Feb., Queensberry's plans demonstration against Wilde, at the first performance of The Importance of Being Earnest, foiled by the actor-manager, George Alexander.
28 Feb., insulting note from Queensberry found by Wilde at the Albemarle Club.
1 Mar., urged on by 'Bosie' (Lord Alfred Douglas), Wilde brings a libel charge against Queensberry.
3 Apr., libel case opens at the Old Bailey.
5 Apr., Queensberry acquitted; warrant issued for the arrest of Wilde. His name is subsequently removed from advertisement hoardings outside the theatres where his plays are being performed.
24 Apr., Bailiff's sale of Wilde's possessions at Tite Street.
26 Apr., the trial opens.
25 May, sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour. Taken to Newgate, thence to Wandsworth, where he injures his ear in a fall.
8 Sept., Constance decides against a divorce.
21 Nov., transferred to Reading Gaol. 1896 11 Feb., Lugné-Poë presents Salomé at Théâtre de l'Oeuvre in Paris.
19 Feb., Constance visits her husband, bringing news of Lady Wilde's death on 3 Feb.
July, appointment of a new, more humane governor at Reading. Oscar is allowed writing materials. He begins to write De Profundis in the form of a long letter to Alfred Douglas.
1897 19 May, released from prison.
20 May travels to Dieppe, where he hands Robert Ross the manuscript of De Profundis for copying and begins life as Sebastian Melmoth with £800 raised by Ross from subscriptions.
May-Oct., writes and revises The Ballad of Reading Gaol (later expanded).
Sept.-Dec., with Alfred Douglas in Naples.1898 13 Feb., Leonard Smithers publishes The Ballad of Reading Gaol, which goes into many reprints.
Apr., Constance dies, following an operation on her spine. (She and the boys had adopted the surname Holland).
1899 Wilde meets Augustus John whilst in Paris. Publications of The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband.
1900 1 Jan., Queensberry dies leaving £ 20,000 to Alfred Douglas, who refuses financial help to Wilde. Some mouths later, George Alexander offer to make voluntary payments on performances of Wilde's plays and to bequeathe the copyright to Wilde's sons. Visits Rodin's pavilion at the Exposition Universelle.
30 Nov., dies in Paris, having been baptised into the Catholic Church. Alfred Douglas pays for his funeral. Buried at Bagneux Cemetery Paris.
1905 Ross publishes De Profundis in abridged form.
1906 Through Ross's efforts the Wilde estate discharged from bankruptcy.
1909 Wilde's remains moved to Père Lachaise.
De Profundis presented by Ross to the British Museum.
1912 A monument by Epstein erected at his grave."And alien tears will fill for him
Pity´s long broken urn
For his mourners will be outcast men
And outcasts always mourn"

was easily the most notorious homosexual of the Puritanical Victorian era. His openness and subsequent trials exposed the conservative society to extreme scrutiny. Despite the negative discussions, the turmoil created by Wilde helped to fuel a later movement towards tolerance of which Wilde could only have dreamed. His resume includes the titles of actor, poet, novelist and convicted criminal.
His university education began in 1871 in Dublin. He earned a scholarship to Trinity College and then another at Magdelen College, Oxford. He went on to win the Newdigate Prize for English verse in 1878 for his poem Ravenna which he recited. While at Oxford, Wilde became well known for his less-than-manly gestures and poses. In 1879 Wilde began to write professionally in London and to draw much attention from his outrageous dress. In a velvet coat edged with braid, knee-breeches, black silk stockings, a soft loose shirt with a wide turn-down collar, and a large flowing tie he repeatedly raised the ire of the conservative middle class around him. He also carried a jewel-topped cane and lavender-colored gloves, and he is also well-known for wearing a button hole flower dyed green. He married Constance Lloyd in 1884 and had two sons before acknowledging his homosexuality to even himself.
became the sexual protégé of Robert Ross (1869-1918). Under Ross's tutelage, Wilde was slipping out at night to meet male prostitutes. Wilde's affections became fixated on a young Scot, Lord Alfred Douglas. In 1884 Wilde's only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray was based on his visits to the studio of the artist Basil Ward who often had young and naked male models about. In the book the artist is named Basil Hallward.
Three separate times, was taken to trial for his homosexuality. The first was initiated within a week of his opening of The Importance of Being Earnest in 1895. Wilde at 40 was rapidly winning accolades in the theater world when the Marquees of Queensbury, the father of Wilde's young lover libeled Wilde at the Albemarle club accusing him of sodomy. The Marquees was brought to trial by Wilde for libel, but was acquitted when the Marquees threatened to bring to court witnesses that would testify against Wilde. A day or two before the trial, Wilde was appalled to learn that the defense had come up with ten names of boys Wilde had (supposedly) solicited, along with some letters he'd written. Wilde's plan backfired as the allegations brought out by the Marquees of Queensbury resulted in charges filed against Wilde. On April 26, Wilde was tried on these charges and gave this emotional defense:
" 'The Love that dare not speak its name' in this country is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep, spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect . . . It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as 'the Love that dare not speak its name', and on account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it, and it repeatedly exists between an elder and a younger man, when the elder has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it."
While eloquent, he was still denying his orientation. The jury was hung and the second trial began on May 22nd. Wilde again denied his proclivities but the confessions of many of his partners assured his conviction. Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labor. The judge declared, "People who can do these things must be dead to all sense of shame... It is the worst case I have ever tried.... I shall, under such circumstances, be expected to pass the severest sentence that the law allows. In my judgment it is totally inadequate for such a case as this. The sentence of the Court is that... you be imprisoned and kept to hard labor for two years. " His marriage fell apart, his sons were taken from him, he was declared bankrupt and his house and belongings were auctioned off, and many of his friends deserted him. Within 4 months, his play had closed, and he had been publicly humiliated. Soon after his arrival in prison a prison chaplain wrote:
When he first came down here from Pentonville he was in an excited flurried condition, and seemed as if he wished to face his punishment without flinching. But all this has passed away. As soon as the excitement aroused by the trial subsided and he had to encounter the daily routine of prison life his fortitude began to give way and rapidly collapsed altogether. He is now quite crushed and broken. This is unfortunate, as a prisoner who breaks down in one direction generally breaks down in several, and I fear from what I hear and see that perverse sexual practices [masturbation] are again getting the mastery over him. This is a common occurrence among prisoners of his class and is of course favoured by constant cellular isolation. The odour of his cell is now so bad that the officer in charge of him has to use carbolic acid in it every day.... I need hardly tell you that he is a man of decidedly morbid disposition.... In fact some of our most experienced officers openly say that they don't think he will be able to go through the two years.
While in prison Wilde wrote De Profundis , in which he blames Douglas for everything that had gone wrong. Upon his release, he and Douglas moved to France. Wilde then wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol . Wilde adopted the name of Sebastian Melmoth. Wilde died on November 30th, 1900 at the age of 44 from cerebral meningitis.

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (October 16, 1854 - November 30, 1900) was an Irish author.
Wilde was born in Dublin in Ireland to Sir William Wilde and Lady Jane Wilde. Sir William Wilde, Ireland's leading ear and eye surgeon, wrote books on archaeology and folklore. Jane Francesca Elgee Wilde was a prominent poet, worked as a translator, and wrote for the Young Ireland movement of the 1840s under the pen-name of Speranza.
After Portora Royal School (1864-1871), Wilde studied the classics at Trinity College, Dublin, with distinction (from 1871 to 1874) and Magdalen College, Oxford, (1874-1878). While at Magdalen College, Wilde won the Oxford Newdigate Prize in 1878 with his poem Ravenna.
While at Magdalen College, Wilde became particularly well known for his role in the aesthetic and decadent movements. He began wearing his hair long and openly scorning so-called "manly" sports, and began decorating his rooms with peacock feathers, lilies, sunflowers, blue china and other objets d'art.
He was deeply impressed by the English writers John Ruskin and Walter Pater who taught about the central importance of art in life. soon became an advocate of Aestheticism and supported the movement's basic principle Art for Art's Sake (L'art pour l'art). The doctrine was coined by the philosopher Victor Cousin, promoted by Theophile Gautier and brought into prominence by James McNeill Whistler.
In 1879 Wilde started to teach Aesthetic values in London. Later he lectured in the United States and in Canada where he was torn apart by the critics. At Oxford University, his behaviour cost him a ducking in the river Cherwell in addition to having his rooms trashed, but the cult spread among certain segments of society to such an extent that languishing attitudes, too-too costumes and aestheticism generally became a recognised pose.
The Wasp, a San Francisco newspaper, published a cartoon ridiculing Wilde and Aestheticism, and Aestheticism was caricatured in Gilbert and Sullivan's mocking operetta Patience (1881).
The aesthetic movement represented by the school of William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti had a permanent influence on English decorative art. As the leading aesthete, became one of the most prominent personalities of his day. Apart from the ridicule he encountered, his affected paradoxes and his witty sayings were quoted on all sides.
In 1882 he went on a lecture tour in the United States, afterwards returning to the United Kingdom where he worked as a reviewer for the Pall Mall Gazette in the years 1887-1889.
Afterwards he became the editor of Woman's World. During this time he published his most famous fairy tale The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888). Three years later, his only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray was published. Critics often claimed that there existed parallels between Wilde's and the protagonist's life.
In 1884 he married Constance Lloyd, and he fathered two sons, Cyril (1885) and Vyvyan (1886), who both later took the surname Holland. He had already published in 1881 a selection of his poems, which, however, attracted admiration in only a limited circle. The Happy Prince and Other Tales appeared in 1888, illustrated by Walter Crane and Jacob Hood. This volume of fairy tales was followed up later by a second collection, The House of Pomegranates (1892), acknowledged by the author to be "intended neither for the British child nor the British public."
In much of his writings, and in his general attitude, there was to most people of his day an undertone of rather nasty suggestiveness which created prejudice against him. His novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) impressed the public more for this reason than for any supposed literary brilliance. Wilde contributed some feature articles to the art reviews, and in 1891 re-published three of them as a book called Intentions.
Wilde's favourite genres were the society comedy and the play. From 1892 on, almost every year a new work of was published. His first real success with the larger public was as a dramatist with Lady Windermere's Fan at the St James's Theatre in 1892, followed by A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), which became Wilde's masterpiece in which he satirised the upper-class.
The dramatic and literary ability shown in these plays, all of which were published later in book form, was as undisputed as their action and ideas were characteristically paradoxical. In 1893 the publisher refused to allow Wilde's Salomé to be produced, but it was produced in Paris by Sarah Bernhardt in 1894. This play formed the basis for one of Richard Strauss' early operas (Salome, 1905).
Wilde has variously been considered bisexual or homosexual, depending on how the terms are defined. His inclination towards relations with other men was relatively well known, the first such relationship having probably been with Robert Ross, who proved his most faithful friend. Wilde became intimate with Lord Alfred Douglas, whom he always called "Bosie". Bosie's father, John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensbury, publicly insulted Wilde with a misspelt note left at Wilde's club. The note read "Mr. Wilde posing as a Somdomite."
Wilde charged Queensbury with libel. The confrontation escalated and some believe Lord Alfred egged Wilde on to fight his father. After losing the libel suit Wilde was formally accused of "gross indecency", any homosexual act short of sodomy, which was a capital offence. He was arrested at the Cadogan Hotel on April 6, 1895.
He was convicted on May 25, 1895 of gross indecency and sentenced to serve two years hard labor. He was emprisoned at Reading, a town some 30 miles west of London. At first he wasn't even allowed paper and pen to write. During his time in prison, Wilde wrote a 30,000 word letter to Douglas, which he handed to Ross, who sent a copy to Douglas. It was published in 1905 (long after Wilde's death) with the title De Profundis. In 1949 his son Vyvyan Holland published it again, including formerly left out parts.
The manuscripts of A Florentine Tragedy and an essay on Shakespeare's sonnets were stolen from his house in 1895. In 1904 a five-act tragedy, The Duchess of Padua, written by Wilde about 1883 for Mary Anderson, but not acted by her, was published in a German translation (Die Herzogin von Padua, translated by Max Meyerfeld) in Berlin.
Prison was unkind to Wilde's health and when he was released on May 19, 1897 he spent his last years penniless on the Continent, in self-inflicted exile from society and artistic circles. He went under the assumed name of 'Sebastian Melmoth', after the central character of the gothic novel Melmoth the Wanderer. After his release, he wrote the famous poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol ("For he who lives more lives than one, more deaths than one must die").
On his deathbed he converted to the Roman Catholic Church, which he had long admired.
Wilde died of cerebral meningitis on November 30, 1900 in a Paris hotel. Different opinions are given on the cause of the meningitis; Richard Ellman claimed it was syphilitic; Merlin Holland thought this to be a misconception, noting that Wilde's meningitis followed a surgical intervention, perhaps a mastoidectomy; Wilde's physicians, Dr. Paul Cleiss and A'Court Tucker reported that the condition stemmed from an old suppuration of the right ear (une ancienne suppuration de l'oreille droite d'ailleurs en traitement depuis plusieurs années) and do not allude to syphilis.
Wilde was buried in the Cimetière de Bagneux outside Paris but was later moved to Le Père Lachaise Cemetery; in Paris.
Biographies and biographical films
After Wilde's death, Wilde's friend Frank Harris wrote a biography of Wilde.
Two films of his life are The Trials of (1960) starring Peter Finch and Wilde (1997) starring Stephen Fry.
In 1987 Richard Ellmann published "", a very minute biography.
2003 saw the publication of the first complete account of Wilde's sexual and emotional life in The Secret Life of by Neil McKenna (published by Century/Random House).
A multiple-issue 'chapter' of Dave Sim's comic book Cerebus the Aardvark, entitled Melmoth, (later collected as a single volume under that title) retells the story of Wilde's final months with the names and places slightly altered to fit the world of the Cerebus storyline, while Cerebus himself spends most of the chapter as a passive observer.


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