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The Famous Oscar Wilde

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all."

Poet, playwright and celebrity

Selected Works

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5 Facts


Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, the early 1890s saw him become one of the most popular playwrights in London. He is best remembered for his epigrams and plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the circumstances of his criminal conviction for "gross indecency", imprisonment, and early death at age 46. Wilde's parents were successful Anglo-Irish intellectuals in Dublin. A young Wilde learned to speak fluent French and German. At university, Wilde demonstrated himself to be an exceptional classicist, first at Trinity College Dublin, then at Oxford. He became associated with the emerging philosophy of aestheticism, led by Walter Pater and John Ruskin. After university, Wilde moved to London into fashionable cultural and social circles. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress and glittering conversational skill, Wilde became one of the best-known personalities of his day. In 1890, he wrote what would be his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. He wrote Salome (1891) and produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late-Victorian London. At the height of his fame and success, while The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) was still being performed in London, Wilde had his lover's father, prosecuted for criminal libel. The trial unearthed evidence that led to Wilde's own arrest and trial for gross indecency with men. He was convicted and sentenced to two years' hard labour, the maximum penalty, and was jailed from 1895 to 1897. On his release, he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. Weakened by his time in prison and the harsh circumstances he faced socially, Wilde died of meningitis on 30 November 1900. His legacy lives on.

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Selected Works

  • Ravenna (1878)
  • Poems (1881)
  • The Happy Prince and Other Stories (1888, fairy stories)
  • Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories (1891, stories)
  • A House of Pomegranates (1891, fairy stories)
  • Intentions (1891, essays and dialogues on aesthetics)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (first published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine July 1890, in book form in 1891; novel)
  • The Soul of Man under Socialism (1891, political essay)
  • Lady Windermere's Fan (1892, play)
  • A Woman of No Importance (1893, play)
  • An Ideal Husband (performed 1895, published 1898; play)
  • The Importance of Being Earnest (performed 1895, published 1898; play)
  • De Profundis (written 1897, published variously 1905, 1908, 1949, 1962; epistle)
  • The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898, poem)