Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

b. 1854 d. 1900

He looked upon the garish day with such a wistful eye; the man had killed the thing he loved, and so he had to die. - Oscar Wilde 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol'

About Oscar Wilde

Wilde’s imprisonment for homosexuality in 1895 ended a spectacularly successful career. Although he lived for a few more years in exile in France after his release and produced some moving poetry, his life was effectively over.

He had been a remarkably talented and prize‑winning student at university in Dublin and Oxford, and embarked on lengthy lecture tours of America, Britain and Ireland. In a society that was suspicious of art, he lived life as an aesthete.

He began to write stories for children and produced his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, in 1890. Its homoerotic elements were controversial and were used by the prosecution during Wilde’s trial to help prove his guilt.

Between 1892 and 1895 Wilde wrote hugely successful comedies for the stage, including The Importance of being Earnest. His polished, witty and amusing plays offered a satirical perspective on Victorian society and its morals and manners.