Author: Gregory Brdnik
Last Updated: May 20, 2012
Last Updated: May 20, 2012
Table of contents:
- Who was Oscar Wilde?
- Fast Facts
- A Short Biography
- Chronology of Wilde's Life
- Photo Gallery (public domain photos)
In his lifetime he wrote nine plays, one novel, and numerous poems, short stories, and essays.
Wilde was a proponent of the Aesthetic movement, which emphasized aesthetic values more than moral or social themes. This doctrine is most clearly summarized in the phrase 'art for art's sake'.
Besides literary accomplishments, he is also famous, or perhaps infamous, for his wit, flamboyance, and affairs with men. He was tried and imprisoned for his homosexual relationship (then considered a crime) with the son of an aristocrat.
Birth date: October 16, 1854
Birth place: Dublin, Ireland
(april, 1876 – age 22)
- Trinity College (Dublin)
- Magdalen College (Oxford)
Mother: Jane Francesca Elgee (poet and journalist)
Siblings: brother William, sister Isola
Spouse: Constance Lloyd
Children: two sons - Cyril and Vyvyan
Occupation: Playwright, novelist, poet, editor, critic
Period: Victorian era (1837–1901)
Literary movement: Aestheticism
- The Picture of Dorian Gray (novel)
- The Importance of Being Earnest (play)
- The Ballad of Reading Gaol (poem)
Resting place: Le Pére Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France
"Biography lends to death a new terror" - Oscar WildeOscar Wilde was born in Dublin on 16 October 1854 to Sir William Wilde and his wife Jane. Oscar's mother, Lady Jane Francesca Wilde (1820-1896), was a successful poet and journalist. She wrote patriotic Irish verse under the pseudonym "Speranza". Oscar's father, Sir William Wilde (1815 - 1876), was a leading ear and eye surgeon, a renowned philanthropist and gifted writer, who wrote books on archaeology and folklore. Oscar had an elder brother, Willie, and a younger sister, Isola Francesca, who died at the early age of 10.
He was educated at Portora Royal School (1864-71), Trinity College, Dublin (1871-74), and Magdalen College, Oxford (1874-78). While at Oxford, he became involved in the aesthetic movement and became an advocate for 'Art for Art's Sake' (L'art pour l'art). Whilst at Magdalen, he won the 1878 Newdigate Prize for his poem Ravenna.
After he graduated, he moved to Chelsea in London (1879) to establish a literary career. In 1881, he published his first collection of poetry - Poems that received mixed reviews by critics. He worked as an art reviewer (1881), lectured in the United States and Canada (1882), and lived in Paris (1883). He also lectured in Britain and Ireland (1883 - 1884).
On May 29, 1884, Oscar married Constance Lloyd (died 1898), daughter of wealthy Queen's Counsel Horace Lloyd. They had two sons, Cyril (1885) and Vyvyan (1886). To support his family, Oscar accepted a job as the editor of Woman's World magazine, where he worked from 1887-1889.
In 1888, he published The Happy Prince and Other Tales, fairy-stories written for his two sons. His first and only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was published in 1891 and received quite a negative response. This had much to do with the novel's homoerotic overtones, which caused something of a sensation amongst Victorian critics. In 1891, Wilde began an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, nicknamed 'Bosie', who became both the love of his life and his downfall. Wilde's marriage ended in 1893.
Wilde's greatest talent was for writing plays. His first successful play, Lady Windermere's Fan, opened in February 1892. He produced a string of extremely popular comedies including A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). These plays were all highly acclaimed and firmly established Oscar as a playwright.
In April 1895, Oscar sued Bosie's father for libel as the Marquis of Queensberry had accused him of homosexuality. Oscar's case was unsuccessful and he was himself arrested and tried for gross indecency. He was sentenced to two years of hard labor for the crime of sodomy. During his time in prison he wrote De Profundis, a dramatic monologue and autobiography, which was addressed to Bosie.
Upon his release in 1897, he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol, revealing his concern for inhumane prison conditions. He spent the rest of his life wandering Europe, staying with friends and living in cheap hotels. He died of cerebral meningitis on November 30, 1900, penniless, in a cheap Paris hotel.
Wilde's tomb in France
(covered in lipstick kisses)
Born in Dublin
1864 - 1871
Attends Portora Royal School, Enniskillen
1871 - 1874
Attends Trinity College, Dublin
Attends Magdalen College, Oxford
Wins Newdigate Prize for Ravenna (poem)
Publishes his first collection of poetry – Poems
Lectures in the United States and Canada. Writes his first play - Vera, or the Nihilists (was not a success)
Lectures in Britain and Ireland. Writes his second unsuccessful play, The Duchess of Padua
Marries Constance Lloyd
His son, Cyril, is born
His son, Vyvyan, is born
Edits Woman's World magazine
Publishes The Happy Prince and Other Tales
1889 - 1890
Publishes several essays
Publishes two collections of short stories - Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and other Stories, and A House of Pomegranates. Publishes The Picture of Dorian Gray, his first and only novel. Begins his friendship with Lord Alfred Douglas – Bosie.
Writes two plays: Lady Windermere's Fan (great success) and Salome
Writes A Woman of No Importance
Writes The Importance of Being Earnest
Writes An ldeal Husband. At the height of his theatrical success, he sues Bosie's father for libel, which leads to his own arrest for homosexual offenses. He is found guilty for the crime of sodomy and sentenced to two years of hard labor.
While in prison, he writes De Profundis
Writes his best known poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol. His wife, Constance, dies.
Dies of cerebral meningitis in Paris.
Wilde and Bosie