115 Facts About Oscar Wilde


Oscar Fingal O'Fflahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish poet and playwright.


Oscar Wilde 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 for consensual homosexual acts in "one of the first celebrity trials", imprisonment, and early death from meningitis at the age of 46.


Oscar Wilde became associated with the emerging philosophy of aestheticism, led by two of his tutors, Walter Pater and John Ruskin.


The opportunity to construct aesthetic details precisely, and combine them with larger social themes, drew Oscar Wilde to write drama.


Oscar Wilde wrote Salome in French while in Paris, but it was refused a licence for England due to an absolute prohibition on the portrayal of Biblical subjects on the English stage.


Undiscouraged, Oscar Wilde 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 was still being performed in London, Oscar Wilde prosecuted the Marquess of Queensberry for criminal libel.


Oscar Wilde was born at 21 Westland Row, Dublin, the second of three children born to an Anglo-Irish couple: Jane, nee Elgee, and Sir William Wilde.


Oscar Wilde believed, mistakenly, that she was of Italian ancestry, and under the pseudonym "Speranza", she wrote poetry for the revolutionary Young Irelanders in 1848; she was a lifelong Irish nationalist.


Sir William Oscar Wilde was Ireland's leading oto-ophthalmologic surgeon and was knighted in 1864 for his services as medical adviser and assistant commissioner to the censuses of Ireland.


Oscar Wilde wrote books about Irish archaeology and peasant folklore.


On his father's side Oscar Wilde was descended from a Dutchman, Colonel de Oscar Wilde, who went to Ireland with King William of Orange's invading army in 1690, and numerous Anglo-Irish ancestors.


On his mother's side, Oscar Wilde's ancestors included a bricklayer from County Durham, who emigrated to Ireland sometime in the 1770s.


Oscar Wilde was baptised as an infant in St Mark's Church, Dublin, the local Church of Ireland church.


Oscar Wilde asked Father Fox in this period to baptise her sons.


The family moved to No 1 Merrion Square in 1855; there Oscar Wilde's sister, Isola Francesca Emily Oscar Wilde, was born on 2 April 1857.


Oscar Wilde was named in tribute to Iseult of Ireland, wife of Mark of Cornwall and lover of the Cornish knight, Sir Tristan.


Oscar Wilde shared the name Francesca with her mother, while Emily was the name of her maternal aunt.


Oscar Wilde was very close to her and grief struck when she died at the age of nine of a febrile illness.


Until he was nine, Oscar Wilde was educated at home, where a French nursemaid and a German governess taught him their languages.


Oscar Wilde joined his brother Willie at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, which he attended from 1864 to 1871.


At Portora, although he was not as popular as his older brother, Oscar Wilde impressed his peers with the humorous and inventive school stories he told.


Oscar Wilde excelled academically, particularly in the subject of Classics, in which he ranked fourth in the school in 1869.


Oscar Wilde was one of only three students at Portora to win a Royal School scholarship to Trinity in 1871.


Oscar Wilde left Portora with a royal scholarship to read classics at Trinity College, Dublin, from 1871 to 1874, sharing rooms with his older brother Willie Oscar Wilde.


At Trinity, Oscar Wilde established himself as an outstanding student: he came first in his class in his first year, won a scholarship by competitive examination in his second and, in his finals, won the Berkeley Gold Medal in Greek, the University's highest academic award.


Oscar Wilde eagerly read the books of Cardinal Newman, a noted Anglican priest who had converted to Catholicism and risen in the church hierarchy.


Oscar Wilde became more serious in 1878, when he met the Reverend Sebastian Bowden, a priest in the Brompton Oratory who had received some high-profile converts.


Oscar Wilde did retain a lifelong interest in Catholic theology and liturgy.


Oscar Wilde wore his hair long, openly scorned "manly" sports though he occasionally boxed, and he decorated his rooms with peacock feathers, lilies, sunflowers, blue china and other objets d'art.


Oscar Wilde was once physically attacked by a group of four fellow students, and dealt with them single-handedly, surprising critics.


Oscar Wilde did not meet Walter Pater until his third year, but had been enthralled by his Studies in the History of the Renaissance, published during Oscar Wilde's final year in Trinity.


Oscar Wilde learned tracts of the book by heart, and carried it with him on travels in later years.


When Oscar Wilde eagerly attended Ruskin's lecture series The Aesthetic and Mathematic Schools of Art in Florence, he learned about aesthetics as the non-mathematical elements of painting.


Oscar Wilde won the 1878 Newdigate Prize for his poem "Ravenna", which reflected on his visit there in the previous year, and he duly read it at Encaenia.


Oscar Wilde became engaged to Bram Stoker and they married in 1878.


Oscar Wilde stated his intention to "return to England, probably for good".


Unsure of his next step, Oscar Wilde wrote to various acquaintances enquiring about Classics positions at Oxford or Cambridge.


Oscar Wilde had been publishing lyrics and poems in magazines since entering Trinity College, especially in Kottabos and the Dublin University Magazine.


Richard D'Oyly Carte, an English impresario, invited Oscar Wilde to make a lecture tour of North America, simultaneously priming the pump for the US tour of Patience and selling this most charming aesthete to the American public.


Oscar Wilde journeyed on the SS Arizona, arriving 2 January 1882, and disembarking the following day.


Oscar Wilde sought to transpose the beauty he saw in art into daily life.


Oscar Wilde's point was a serious one: we notice London fogs, he argued, because art and literature has taught us to do so.


Oscar Wilde presented himself as the impeccably dressed and mannered dandy figure whose life was a work of art.


Oscar Wilde believed that the artist should hold forth higher ideals, and that pleasure and beauty would replace utilitarian ethics.


Oscar Wilde happened to be visiting Dublin in 1884, when Wilde was lecturing at the Gaiety Theatre.


Oscar Wilde proposed to her, and they married on 29 May 1884 at the Anglican St James's Church, Paddington, in London.


Oscar Wilde became the sole literary signatory of George Bernard Shaw's petition for a pardon of the anarchists arrested after the Haymarket massacre in Chicago in 1886.


Oscar Wilde enjoyed reviewing and journalism; the form suited his style.


When Charles Stewart Parnell was falsely accused of inciting murder, Oscar Wilde wrote a series of astute columns defending him in the Daily Chronicle.


Oscar Wilde's flair, having previously been put mainly into socialising, suited journalism and rapidly attracted notice.


Oscar Wilde promptly renamed it as The Woman's World and raised its tone, adding serious articles on parenting, culture, and politics, while keeping discussions of fashion and arts.


Oscar Wilde worked hard to solicit good contributions from his wide artistic acquaintance, including those of Lady Oscar Wilde and his wife Constance, while his own "Literary and Other Notes" were themselves popular and amusing.


Increasingly sending instructions to the magazine by letter, Oscar Wilde began a new period of creative work and his own column appeared less regularly.


In October 1889, Oscar Wilde had finally found his voice in prose and, at the end of the second volume, Oscar Wilde left The Woman's World.


Oscar Wilde considered Vivian's article to be a scurrilous betrayal, and it directly caused the broken friendship between Oscar Wilde and Whistler.


Oscar Wilde published The Happy Prince and Other Tales in 1888, and had been regularly writing fairy stories for magazines.


Arthur Ransome wrote that Oscar Wilde "read something of himself into Shakespeare's sonnets" and became fascinated with the "Willie Hughes theory" despite the lack of biographical evidence for the historical William Hughes' existence.


The story thus is an early masterpiece of Oscar Wilde's combining many elements that interested him: conversation, literature and the idea that to shed oneself of an idea one must first convince another of its truth.


Ransome concludes that Oscar Wilde succeeds precisely because the literary criticism is unveiled with such a deft touch.


Oscar Wilde, having tired of journalism, had been busy setting out his aesthetic ideas more fully in a series of longer prose pieces which were published in the major literary-intellectual journals of the day.


Oscar Wilde envisioned a society where mechanisation has freed human effort from the burden of necessity, effort which can instead be expended on artistic creation.


Contemporary reviewers and modern critics have postulated numerous possible sources of the story, a search Jershua McCormack argues is futile because Oscar Wilde "has tapped a root of Western folklore so deep and ubiquitous that the story has escaped its origins and returned to the oral tradition".


Oscar Wilde claimed the plot was "an idea that is as old as the history of literature but to which I have given a new form".


The 1891 census records the Wildes' residence at 16 Tite Street, where Oscar lived with his wife Constance and two sons.


Oscar Wilde was received at the salons litteraires, including the famous mardis of Stephane Mallarme, a renowned symbolist poet of the time.


Oscar Wilde's two plays during the 1880s, Vera; or, The Nihilists and The Duchess of Padua, had not met with much success.


Oscar Wilde had continued his interest in the theatre and now, after finding his voice in prose, his thoughts turned again to the dramatic form as the biblical iconography of Salome filled his mind.


When Oscar Wilde returned to London just before Christmas the Paris Echo referred to him as "le great event" of the season.


Oscar Wilde, who had first set out to irritate Victorian society with his dress and talking points, then to outrage it with Dorian Gray, his novel of vice hidden beneath art, finally found a way to critique society on its own terms.


Oscar Wilde's first hit play was followed by A Woman of No Importance in 1893, another Victorian comedy, revolving around the spectre of illegitimate births, mistaken identities and late revelations.


Oscar Wilde was commissioned to write two more plays and An Ideal Husband, written in 1894, followed in January 1895.


Douglas and some Oxford friends founded a journal, The Chameleon, to which Oscar Wilde "sent a page of paradoxes originally destined for the Saturday Review".


Queensberry only described the scene once, saying Oscar Wilde had "shown him the white feather", meaning he had acted in a cowardly way.


Oscar Wilde did not wish to bear Queensberry's insults, but he knew to confront him could lead to disaster were his liaisons disclosed publicly.


The play, now considered Oscar Wilde's masterpiece, was rapidly written in Oscar Wilde's artistic maturity in late 1894.


Oscar Wilde, encouraged by Douglas and against the advice of his friends, initiated a private prosecution against Queensberry for libel, since the note amounted to a public accusation that Oscar Wilde had committed the crime of sodomy.


Oscar Wilde's friends had advised him against the prosecution at a Saturday Review meeting at the Cafe Royal on 24 March 1895; Frank Harris warned him that "they are going to prove sodomy against you" and advised him to flee to France.


The extent of the evidence massed against Oscar Wilde forced him to declare meekly, "I am the prosecutor in this case".


Oscar Wilde characterised the first as a "prose sonnet" and admitted that the "poetical language" might seem strange to the court but claimed its intent was innocent.


Oscar Wilde claimed to regard the letters as works of art rather than something of which to be ashamed.


Carson, who was a Dubliner who had attended Trinity College, Dublin, at the same time as Oscar Wilde, cross-examined Oscar Wilde on how he perceived the moral content of his works.


Oscar Wilde replied with characteristic wit and flippancy, claiming that works of art are not capable of being moral or immoral but only well or poorly made, and that only "brutes and illiterates", whose views on art "are incalculably stupid", would make such judgements about art.


Oscar Wilde admitted being on a first-name basis and lavishing gifts upon them, but insisted that nothing untoward had occurred and that the men were merely good friends of his.


Oscar Wilde replied that he did not believe in social barriers, and simply enjoyed the society of young men.


Oscar Wilde was then imprisoned on remand at Holloway, where he received daily visits from Douglas.


Oscar Wilde had already begged Douglas to leave London for Paris, but Douglas complained bitterly, even wanting to give evidence; he was pressed to go and soon fled to the Hotel du Monde.


Under cross-examination Oscar Wilde was at first hesitant, then spoke eloquently:.


Oscar Wilde was freed from Holloway and, shunning attention, went into hiding at the house of Ernest and Ada Leverson, two of his firm friends.


Oscar Wilde was incarcerated from 25 May 1895 to 18 May 1897.


Oscar Wilde first entered Newgate Prison in London for processing, then was moved to Pentonville Prison, where the "hard labour" to which he had been sentenced consisted of many hours of walking a treadmill and picking oakum, and where prisoners were allowed to read only the Bible and The Pilgrim's Progress.


Richard B Haldane, the Liberal MP and reformer, visited Wilde and had him transferred in November to Reading Gaol, 30 miles west of London on 23 November 1895.


From Wooldridge's hanging, Oscar Wilde later wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol.


Oscar Wilde was not, at first, even allowed paper and pen, but Haldane eventually succeeded in allowing access to books and writing materials.


Between January and March 1897 Oscar Wilde wrote a 50,000-word letter to Douglas.


Oscar Wilde was not allowed to send it, but was permitted to take it with him when released from prison.


Oscar Wilde realised that his ordeal had filled his soul with the fruit of experience, however bitter it tasted at the time.


Oscar Wilde was released from prison on 19 May 1897 and sailed that evening for Dieppe, France.


Oscar Wilde immediately wrote to the Society of Jesus requesting a six-month Catholic retreat; when the request was denied, Wilde wept.


Oscar Wilde spent his last three years impoverished and in exile.


Oscar Wilde took the name "Sebastian Melmoth", after Saint Sebastian and the titular character of Melmoth the Wanderer.


Oscar Wilde wrote two long letters to the editor of the Daily Chronicle, describing the brutal conditions of English prisons and advocating penal reform.


Oscar Wilde spent mid-1897 with Robert Ross in the seaside village of Berneval-le-Grand in northern France, where he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol, narrating the execution of Charles Thomas Wooldridge, who murdered his wife in a rage at her infidelity.


Oscar Wilde adopted the proletarian ballad form and the author was credited as "C33", Wilde's cell number in Reading Gaol.


Oscar Wilde corrected and published An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, the proofs of which, according to Ellmann, show a man "very much in command of himself and of the play" but he refused to write anything else: "I can write, but have lost the joy of writing".


Oscar Wilde wandered the boulevards alone and spent what little money he had on alcohol.


Oscar Wilde's moods fluctuated; Max Beerbohm relates how their mutual friend Reginald 'Reggie' Turner had found Wilde very depressed after a nightmare.


Oscar Wilde was initially buried in the Cimetiere de Bagneux outside Paris; in 1909 his remains were disinterred and transferred to Pere Lachaise Cemetery, inside the city.


In 2017, Oscar Wilde was among an estimated 50,000 men who were pardoned for homosexual acts that were no longer considered offences under the Policing and Crime Act 2017.


On 14 February 1995, Oscar Wilde was commemorated with a stained-glass window at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.


In 2014 Oscar Wilde was one of the inaugural honorees in the Rainbow Honor Walk, a walk of fame in San Francisco's Castro neighbourhood noting LGBTQ people who have "made significant contributions in their fields".


Oscar Wilde's life has been the subject of numerous biographies since his death.


Later, in Oscar Wilde: A Summing Up and his Autobiography, Douglas was more sympathetic to Wilde.


The book was the basis for the 1997 film Oscar Wilde, directed by Brian Gilbert and starring Stephen Fry as the title character.


The book incorporates rediscovered letters and other documents and is the most extensively researched biography of Oscar Wilde to appear since 1988.