Tell Me More About…. Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin on the 16th October 1854 and became a popular literary figure in late Victorian England. 

Wilde was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and Magdalen College in Oxford and received various awards for his academic achievements. After his graduation from Oxford, he lectured as a poet, art critic and leading advocate on the principles of aestheticism, an artistic movement which celebrated beauty and the sensual qualities of art and design. 

In 1884 he married Constance Lloyd and they had 2 sons together, Cyril and Vyvyan. Between 1888 and 1895 Wilde created and published his most famous works; in 1888 he published ‘The Happy Prince and Other Tales’, a collection of children’s stories and his only novel, the infamous ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ was published 1891. At the time, the novel was considered highly immoral by Victorian critics. The story follows the life life of a handsome young man who sold his soul, allowing his self portrait to exhibit the signs of sin and old age rather than his physical appearance. The character indulges in many vices which cause the picture to become decrepit and withered, a reflection on Dorian’s tainted soul.

Wilde also had a great talent as a playwright, some of his most notable works include Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). He received widespread popularity and critical acclaim for his satirical comedies.

Although a great writer, Oscar Wilde is arguably more famous for his personal life. Around the time of his literary success, he began an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. Lord Douglas’s father discovered their affair and confronted Wilde, resulting in Wilde suing him for libel. During the trial, it was discovered that the claims against Wilde were not false and resulted in his arrest for “gross indecency.” Wilde was convicted on 25th May 1895 and was sentenced to two years in prison. Wilde was released from prison in 1897, a shadow of his former self. He went into exile in France and died of meningitis in 1900 at the age of 46. 

118 years after his death, Oscar Wilde is still remembered for his literary talent, brilliant wit and his colourful personal life. His most famous works, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ and ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ are considered masterpieces of the Victorian period. 

Oscar Wilde’s great wit and charm has resulted in some very famous quotes, here are a few of our favourites:

  • “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
  • “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
  • “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”
  • “The mystery of love is greater than the mystery of death.” 
  • “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
  • “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”
  • “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
  • “It takes great deal of courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it.”

Interested to learn about other famous authors? Learn More About J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan. 


Comments are closed