Oscar Wilde, born on October 16, 1854, was an Irish playwright, writer, poet, and essayist who was born into an educated family. He is most well known for his epigrams and plays, and the novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” He is also infamous due to the circumstances surrounding his criminal conviction for gross indecency for consensual homosexual encounters, and imprisonment. He was influenced by the aesthetic movement, which proclaimed that art should be done only for the sake of art, while studying at Trinity College, Dublin, and quickly became one of its fervent supporters. Although his debut book, “Poems” established him as a rising poet, he did not achieve significant popularity until the last decade of his brief life.
Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde
October 16, 1854
November 30, 1900 (age 46)
Oscar Wilde, full name Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, was born in Dublin, Ireland. His zodiac sign is Libra. He was the son of Sir William Robert Wills Wilde and Jane Francesca Agnes Wilde. His father was a well-known eye and ear surgeon. He also wrote works on medicine, archeology, and folklore. He was knighted in 1864 for his contributions to the Irish censuses. His mother was a poet who wrote under the pen name ‘Speranza,’ which means ‘hope.’ As a supporter of the Irish nationalist cause, many of her writings were pro-Ireland and anti-British. She was particularly interested in Irish folklore and advocated for women’s education.
Wilde was schooled at home by a German governess and a French nurse until he was nine years old. He picked up German and French from them. He enrolled in Portora Royal School, a residential school in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, in 1864. Here, he developed a particular interest in Greek and Roman studies, winning awards as the top Classics student in his final two years. Wilde graduated from Portora in 1871 with a Royal School Scholarship to Trinity College, Dublin, to study classics. He immediately established himself as a top student here.
Wilde married Constance Lloyd, the daughter of Horace Lloyd, a rich Queen’s Counsel, on May 29, 1884. They had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan. But, although being married with kids, he had been involved in a homosexual relationship. When this became public, he was sentenced to two years in prison. He fled to France after being released from jail, where he lived the last years of his life, estranged from his family and rejected by most of his friends. His novels had also ceased selling at that point, and his plays had been canceled. Thus, he lived in poverty and ill health until he died at 46 from meningitis.
Wilde establishes himself as a poet, winning the prestigious Newdigate Prize for his epic poem “Ravenna.”
During his time in London, Wilde focuses on producing new poems, developing and modifying existing ones, and publishes “Poems.”
He spends three months in Paris after returning from America, to finish his play, “The Duchess of Padua.”
Wilde publishes a collection of children’s stories, titled “The Happy Prince and Other Tales.”
Reviewers blasted his novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” for its extravagance and homosexual overtones.
He has five additional big works published: ‘Intentions,’ ‘The Soul of Man Under Socialism,’ ‘Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories,’ ‘A House of Pomegranates,’ and ‘Salome.’
Why We Love Oscar Wilde
He socialized with people from all walks of life
He met individuals from all walks of life wherever he traveled. In Leadville and Colorado, he drank whiskey with miners and dined with celebrities such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Walt Whitman in the most prestigious salons of the city.
He was an outstanding linguist
Wilde was a brilliant linguist who spoke several languages. He spoke English, German, and French well, and had a working understanding of Italian and Greek.
He wrote essays even while incarcerated
Despite the appalling conditions of Wilde’s incarceration, he continued to write well. He wrote several books during this time.
5 Surprising Facts
Wilde’s father was well known
Sir William Wilde, Wilde’s father, was a well-known eye and ear physician in Ireland.
Wilde’s wife abandoned him
Although they never officially divorced, his wife, Constance, changed her surname and that of their children while Wilde was in prison to avoid the scandal.
Wilde converted to Catholicism
Before he died in Paris in 1900, Wilde decided to convert to Catholicism.
His mother was an Irish Revolutionary
She allegedly used a pen name to keep her true identity hidden from her family when she published her work.
He was imprisoned because of his sexuality
Wilde was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to hard labor in Pentonville Prison after attempting to sue John Douglas for libel.
Oscar Wilde FAQs
What is Wilde’s most famous writing?
His novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1891) and his masterful comedy play, “Lady Windermere’s Fan” (1892).
What were Wilde’s last words?
“This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death.”
Why is Wilde important?
He rose to prominence as a playwright, poet, and writer whose views on art, beauty, and human liberty posed a challenge to Victorian ideology.
Oscar Wilde’s birthday dates