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10 Facts You Should Know About Oscar Wilde
Saturday, 15 November 2008

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

~ Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde (Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde, 16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish playwright, poet, and author of numerous short stories and one novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray". He is one of the most iconic figures from late Victorian society enjoying a meteoric rise to the top of society. His wit, humor and intelligence shine through his plays and writings. For his sexuality he suffered the indignity and shame of imprisonment. For a long time his name was synonymous with scandal and intrigue. However with changing social attitudes he is remembered with great affection for his biting social criticism, wit and linguistic skills. There is so much to say about Oscar Wilde, that I've decided to write here just 10 most crucial facts about Oscar Wilde's life.



"Wilde remains a fascinating character. One who lived life to the full, experiencing both the joy and tragedy of society’s vacillating judgements. With the distance of over a century it is easier to judge Wilde for his unique contributions to literature rather than through the eyes of Victorian moral standards. Oscar Wilde quotes have become immortal a fitting tribute to a genius of the witticism."

~ Oscar Wilde Biography Online

1. Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin. His parents were well known and attracted their fare share of gossip for their extravagant lifestyles. His mother, Jane Wilde, was a successful writer, being a poet for the revolutionary Young Irelanders in 1848 and a life-long Irish nationalist. His father, Wille Wilde, was knighted for his services to medicine.

2. Oscar Wilde was a very talented a student. He was awarded a scholarship to Trinity College Dublin. From Trinity college he won a scholarship to Magdalen College Oxford University. He was a brilliant scholar but also increasingly rebellious. In one academic year he got rusticated for turning up to College 3 weeks after the start of term. Thus after a while he lost interest in pursuing an academic career in Oxford and moved to London.

3. 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.

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

~ Oscar Wilde by The Frugal Duchess

4. It was in London that he was able to skillfully enter into high society, soon becoming well known as a playwright and noted wit. Oscar Wilde became famous throughout London society. He was one of the early "celebrities" in some respects he was famous for being famous. His dress was a target for satire in the cartoons, but Wilde didn’t seem to mind. In fact he learnt the art of self-publicity and seemed to revel in it.

5. In 1884 Oscar Wilde married Constance Lloyd, daughter of wealthy Queen's Counsel Horace Lloyd. Constance's allowance of £250 allowed the Wildes to live in relative luxury. The couple had two sons.

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

~ Oscar Wilde by Fascinating History

6. Wilde's sexual orientation has variously been considered bisexual and homosexual. He may have had significant sexual relationships with (in chronological order) Frank Miles, Constance Lloyd (his wife), Robert Baldwin Ross, and Lord Alfred Douglas ("Bosie"). Wilde also had numerous sexual encounters with working-class male youths, who were often rent boys.

7. Oscar Wilde's years of triumph ended dramatically, when his intimate association with Alfred Douglas led to his trial on charges of homosexuality (then illegal in Britain). He was sentenced two years hard labour for the crime of sodomy.

8. After Oscar's downfall, Constance took the surname Holland for herself and the boys.

9. In some respects he never really recovered, on his release he left for Paris where he lived in comparative anonymity. However he retained his wit and continued to write.

10. He was not an overtly political commentator but through his plays there is an underlying critique of social norms that are illumined for their absurdities. Wilde, for much of his life, advocated socialism, which he argued "will be of value simply because it will lead to individualism."

"To look at a thing is very different from seeing a thing. One does not see anything until one sees its beauty. Then, and then only, does it come into existence."

~ Oscar Wilde, The Decay of Lying


Oscar Wilde Books

Complete Works of Oscar Wilde (Collins Classics)

Collins is perhaps the single best edition of Wilde's complete works. Along with the author's full canon of plays, poems, essays, and novels, this also contains numerous appendixes of biographical information and chronologies of Wilde's work as well as examples of his famous one-liners divided into categories. This Centenary Edition was edited by his grandson Merlin, who made revisions to the text.


The Picture of Dorian Gray

Basil Hallward, an artist, meets Dorian Gray and paints his portrait. The artist is so infatuated with Dorian's beauty that he begins to believe it is the reason for his quality of art. Dorian becomes convinced that beauty is all-important and wishes his portrait could age instead of him. Beware of what you have wish for! Each time Dorian commits a sin his portrait ages, showing him what is happening to his soul.


The Importance of Being Earnest

"The Importance of Being Earnest is an ode to good writing that neither fancy music nor sophisticated stage effects can ever account for. This play is more than classic: it is timeless."

~ Winston in Wonderland

The Importance of Being Earnest is an important play by Oscar Wilde, and is a comedy of manners that discusses the serious of society. Set in late Victorian England, the story is about the main charachter, John Worthing's, ficticious brother Ernest, which is the main source of the comedy in this work. This is an important play for those are fans of comedy plays and of course the works of Oscar Wilde.

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