Oscar Wilde

'''Oscar Fingal O'Fflahertie Wills Wilde'''}} (16 October 185430 November 1900) was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of the most popular playwrights in London in the early 1890s. He is best remembered for his epigrams and plays, his novel ''The Picture of Dorian Gray'', and his criminal conviction for gross indecency for homosexual acts.

Wilde's parents were Anglo-Irish intellectuals in Dublin. In his youth Wilde learned to speak fluent French and German. At university, he read Greats; he demonstrated himself to be an exceptional classicist, first at Trinity College Dublin, then at Magdalen College, Oxford. He became associated with the emerging philosophy of aestheticism, led by two of his tutors, Walter Pater and John Ruskin. After university, Wilde moved to London into fashionable cultural and social circles.

He tried his hand at various literary activities: he wrote a play, published a book of poems, lectured in the United States and Canada on the new "English Renaissance in Art" and interior decoration, and then returned to London where he lectured on his American travels and wrote reviews for various periodicals. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress and glittering conversational skill, Wilde became one of the best-known personalities of his day. At the turn of the 1890s he refined his ideas about the supremacy of art in a series of dialogues and essays, and incorporated themes of decadence, duplicity, and beauty into what would be his only novel, ''The Picture of Dorian Gray'' (1890). Wilde returned to the drama, writing ''Salome'' (1891) 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, 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 ''An Ideal Husband'' (1895) and ''The Importance of Being Earnest'' (1895) were still being performed in London, Wilde issued a civil writ against John Sholto Douglas, the 9th Marquess of Queensberry for criminal libel. The Marquess was the father of Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. The libel hearings unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and criminal prosecution for gross indecency with men. The jury was unable to reach a verdict and so a retrial was ordered. In the second trial Wilde was convicted and sentenced to two years' hard labour, the maximum penalty, and was jailed from 1895 to 1897. During his last year in prison he wrote ''De Profundis'' (published posthumously in abridged form in 1905), a long letter that discusses his spiritual journey through his trials and is a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. On the day of his release he caught the overnight steamer to France, never to return to Britain or Ireland. In France and Italy he wrote his last work, ''The Ballad of Reading Gaol'' (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life. Provided by Wikipedia
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