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Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde Oscar Fingal OFlahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin Ireland on October 16, 1854. He is one of the most talented and most controversial writers of his time. He was well known for his wit, flamboyance, and creative genius and with his little dramatic training showing his natural talent for stage and theatre. He is termed a martyr by some and may be the first true self-publicist and was known for his style of dress and odd behavior. Wilde, 1882 His Father, William Wilde, was a highly accredited doctor and his mother, Jane Francesca Elgee, was a writer of revolutionary poems.

Oscar had a brother William Charles Kingsbury along with his fathers three illegitimate children, Henry, Emily, and Mary. His sister, Isola Emily Francesca died in 1867 at only ten years of age from a sudden fever, greatly affecting Oscar and his family. He kept a lock of her hair in an envelope and later wrote the poem Requiescat in her memory. Oscar and his brother William both attended the Protora Royal School at Enniskillen. He had little in common with the other children.

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He disliked games and took more interest in flowers and sunsets. He was extremely passionate about anything that had to do with ancient Greece and with Classics. Wilde during school years In 1871, he was awarded a Royal School Scholarship to Trinity College in Dublin and received many awards and earned the highest honor the college offered to an undergraduate, the Foundation Scholarship. In 1874, he also won the Colleges Berkley Gold Medal for Greek and was awarded a Demyship to Magdalen College, Oxford. After graduating from Oxford, Oscar moved to London with his friend Frank Miles, a well-known portrait painter of the time. In 1878 his poem Ravenna was published, for which he won the Newdigate poetry prize.

In 1881, he published his first collection of poetry Poems, which was well liked by critics. In late 1881, Oscar left to travel across the United States and deliver a series of lectures on the aesthetics, the belief that to create a sense of beauty was more important than anything else. The trip was only planned to last four months but instead lasted nearly a year with Oscar giving nearly three times as many lectures as planned. He met Henry Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Walt Whitman, on which he made a good impression. During this time he arranged for his play Vera to be staged in New York. The play was cancelled during rehearsal due to it concerning Nihilism in Russia which was delicate subject matter at the time and in New York it closed after only a week. Oscar was married on May 29, 1884 to Constance Lloyd and they had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan.

He was extraordinarily fond of his children, although he did not spend much time with them Constance with son Cyril In 1887, Oscar accepted a position at a magazine called The Womans World which he was to help revitalize, but quit in 1889. He wrote about the folklore and superstition of Ireland. He published the prose The Happy Prince and Other Tales in 1888, which he wrote for his sons. He wrote the essay The Decay of Lying in 1889. Oscars first play Dorian Gray Opened in 1890 and was later expanded and published as a book The Picture of Dorian Gray in 1891.

The story is about moral decadence and is distinguished for its brilliance. Dorian, a man of extraordinary beauty is painted by a friend and he wishes he remain as in the portrait and that it bear his sins. Dorian goes on to lead a wicked life and kills himself in the end. The process of corruption in the story is fully described and the shocking conclusion commits to a moral stand against self-debasement. Its subject of criminal deviance and lack of morality caused public outrage and the play made very little money. In 1891 two of his prose were published The House of Pomegranates, which he also wrote for his sons and Lard Arthur Saviles Crime and Other Stories. Over the next few years many of Oscars plays were produced.

Salome was a drama about obsessive passion written in 1891. It was produced in Paris in 1894, made into an opera by German composer Richard Strauss and translated into English by Lord Alfred Douglas. The play was declared blasphemous because it concerned the death of John the Baptist. In February 1892, Oscar opened the play Lady Windermeres Fan. It dealt with a blackmailing divorce driven to self-sacrifice by maternal love and was very successful, received excellent reviews and was noted for its witty dialogue.

He wrote A Woman of No Importance in 1892, a story about an illegitimate child torn between father and mother, which was very successful. The Duchess of Padue, which he wrote in 1883 was not produced until 1893, The Sphinx in 1894, An Ideal Husband in 1895, which did better than all of his previous plays and dealt with blackmail, political corruption and public and private honor, and The Importance of being Earnest in 1895, for which he is most famous for and wrote during the worst period of his life and concerned two fashionable young gentlemen and their eventually successful courtship. In 1891 he began an intimate relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, also known as Bosie. Bosie was very demanding and often violent but Oscar worshiped him. Bosies father the Marquess of Queensbury looked down on their relationship and he did everything in his power to stop it and see Oscars downfall.

In 1895 Oscar was arrested and tried for 25 acts of gross indecency. His plays were closed, books were withdrawn and effects sold by bailiffs. The first trial resulted in a hung jury, while the second trial convicted him guilty on 24 of the 25 counts. He was sentenced to the harshest punishment possible, two years of hard labor, in which he had to work six hours a day on the treadmill, sleep on a bare board and have no personal possessions, only a Bible and Pilgrims Process. De Profundis was written by Oscar while in prison apologizing for his life. It was considered a serious revelation by some and a sentimental and insincere work by others.

The poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol was published in 1898. It portrays prison life and the desperation of the people there. After his release from prison he spent his final years with friends in Paris, where he converted to Roman Catholicism. He died at age 46 on November 30, 1990 of a recurrent ear infection from an injury that occurred while in prison that became serious and became meningitis.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was one of the most prominent Irish born playwrights. He was a major player in the aesthetic movement, which was based on art for art’s sake. Wilde was also a novelist, playwright, poet, and critic.

He was born Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wilson Wilde on October 16, 1854, in Dublin, Ireland. Wilde came from a rather large family. William Wilde, his father, had three illegitimate children previous to his marriage. They were Henry Wilson in 1838, Emily in 1847, and Mary in 1849. William provided financially for all of them. Henry studied medicine and later assisted his father at St. Mark’s Hospital. William’s brother raised Emily and Mary but both died in a fire at the ages of 24 and 22. Oscar’s mother had three children, William Charles Kingsbury in 1852, Oscar in 1854, and Isola Emily Franscesca in 1857. Isola died ten years later in 1857 from a sudden fever. Oscar was profoundly affected by this and kept a lock of her hair sealed in a decorated envelope until the day he died.

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Oscar’s father, William Wilde, graduated as a doctor, completed voyages to North Africa and the Middle East, studied at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, written two books, and been appointed medical advisor to the Irish Census of 1841 all by the time he was 28. He later became Assistant Commissioner to the 1851 Census and was knighted for his work in 1864 at the age of 49.

Oscar’s mother, Jane Francesca Elgee, wrote revolutionary poems for an Irish weekly newspaper called The Nation in 1846. She was also a gifted linguist with a lot of knowledge of major European languages and translated Wilhelm Meinhold’s horror novel, Sidonia The Sorceress. This came to be one of Oscar’s favorite books.

Oscar attended Protora Royal School at Enniskillen and excelled at Classics. In 1872, he placed first in his examinations and was awarded a Foundation Scholarship. In 1874, Oscar won the college’s Berkeley Gold Medal for Greek and was awarded a Demyship (scholarship) to Magdalen College, Oxford.

Then in 1876, Oscar’s father died and Henry had to support the family, until his sudden death in 1878.

Oscar did very well at Oxford and was awarded the Newdigate prize for his poem, “Ravenna” and “First In Greats” by his teachers. After graduation he moved to London with is friend, Frank Miles, a well-known portrait painter. Then in 1881, Oscar published his first collection of poems entitled, Poems.” It was reviewed well by the critics.

In late 1881, Wilde came to New York and traveled across the United States. He gave a series of lectures on “The Aesthetics.” Originally planed to last four months, the tour stretched to almost a year. In between lectures, Oscar met with Henry Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Walt Whitman. He also had his play, “Vera,” staged the following year. When Oscar returned from America, he moved to Paris. He was commissioned to write a blank-verse tragedy but declined due to his social life. He then went to Ireland and Britain on a lecture tour.

On May 29, 1884, Wilde married Constance Lloyd. She was four years younger than Oscar and her father was a prominent Irish barrister who had died 10 years earlier. Constance was intelligent and well read. She spoke several languages and was outspoken about her beliefs. Oscar and Constance had two sons, Cyril in 1885 and Vyvyan in 1886.

In 1887, Wilde took a position at a magazine called “The Woman’s World” and worked there for two years. During the following two years he would publish “The Happy Price and Other Tales” (1888) and “The House of Pomegranates” (1892). Oscar’s first play, “Dorian Gray,” opened in 1890 and was later made into a book. It caused quite a controversy due to its subject of Crimean deviance and lack of morals, but made little money. His second play, “Lady Windermere’s Fan” opened in February of 1892. It was very successful persuaded Oscar to continue to write plays. His following plays, “A Woman of No Importance” (1892), “An Ideal Husband” (1893), and “The Importance of Being Earnest” (1893) were all successful and finally established Oscar as a playwright.

In the summer of 1891, Oscar met Lord Alfred Bosie’ Douglas, the third son of the Marquis of Queensbury. Lord Alfred was a fan of Wilde’s and an undergraduate at Oxford. They soon became lovers and were inseparable. Three years later Oscar was arrested. In April of 1895, Wilde sued Lord Alfred’s father for libel on the charge of homosexuality. He soon withdrew the case and was sentenced to two years of hard labor. Constance left and took the children to Switzerland and took the family name, Holland.

After severing his sentence Oscar wrote “The Ballad of Reading Goal.” It was about the agony that he had suffered in prison and came out shortly before Constance’s death in 1898.

Oscar briefly returned to Lord Alfred but spent the remainder of the last two years of his life traveling through Europe. He stayed with friends and now and then wrote for different Parisian newspapers. Then in 1900, a recurring ear infection became serious and meningitis set in. Oscar died on November 30, 1900.


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