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Oscar Wilde Biography

Oscar Wilde Biography

Oscar Wilde was a writer who actually wrote just a single novel, but is surely considered to be one of the greatest Victorian playwrights ever. Here's more on him...
Penlighten Staff
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900) was the son of an Irish physician. His father was Sir William Wilde, a doctor who specialized in eye and ear diseases, also an antique book seller, and a writer. He had three more children from a previous relationship. Oscar's mother, Jane Francesca Elgee, was a journalist and a poetess.

While still in school, Oscar was an excellent student of the classical period, also very good at Greek and painting, winning plenty of awards and scholarships. After graduating from the Dublin Trinity College din Dublin, he attended aesthetic lectures given by John Ruskin at the Oxford University. A student of this prestigious institution, Wilde proved to have an exquisite taste in dressing, adopting the dandy style. After his graduation in 1878, he moved to London, where he started the 'Art for Art' movement, in which he developed his aesthetic theories: 'The aim of the art is to reveal the art and to conceal the artist'.

In 1882, Wilde published his very first collection of poems. After that came a period in which he gave many speeches on aesthetics in the United States and Canada, and then another period when Wilde spent some time in Paris. The following six years stood for the apogee of creation of this Irish writer―the plays, and especially the novel titled 'The Portrait of Dorian Gray', which caused enough scandal to ensure his fame. He is the one who said in fact: "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about." And also: "I put all my genius into my life, I put only my talent into my works."

In 1884, he married Constance Lloyd, with whom he had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan. In 1886, he started his first homosexual relationship with a young man named Robbie Ross, whose ash was in fact placed on Wilde's grave. His wife and kids left him and changed their names. In 1891, the writer met Lord Alfred Douglas (Bossie, 'the honey-hair boy'), who also became his lover. His homosexual tendencies resulted in a two-year prison conviction in 1895. He spent the last period of this punishment at Reading, a space which became the object of the famous ballad. Released in 1897, and ruined after his prodigal life, he moved to France, where he ended his life in oblivion. He died of meningitis in Paris, on November 30, 1900, and was buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery.

There are also some unknown facts about Oscar Wilde. In spite of his proficiency, Wilde wrote only one novel in his entire life, 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'. He was considered to be one of the greatest Victorian playwrights. He wrote and produced no less than nine plays. Also, since his death, nine biographies have been made, and one of them belongs to his grandson, Merlin Holland, which was written in 1997.

Since 1960, many biographical movies, TV series, and theater plays have been produced, inspired by the personal life of Oscar Wilde. Here are a few of his quotes, which make full proof of the writer's witty, inspired talent.

"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."

"A poet can survive anything but a misprint."

"A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."

"All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. To be natural is to be obvious, and to be obvious is to be inartistic."

"All art is quite useless."

"A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament."

"All that I desire to point out is the general principle that life imitates art far more than art imitates life."

"America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between."

"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all."

"Arguments are extremely vulgar, for everyone in good society holds exactly the same opinion."

"Art is the most intense form of individualism that the world has known."

"Biography lends to death a new terror."

"By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community."