Beckson, Karl E. The Oscar Wilde Encyclopedia. New York: AMS Press, 1998. At nearly five hundred pages, a compendium of useful information on Wilde and his times.
Belford, Barbara. Oscar Wilde: A Certain Genius. New York: Random House, 2000. An examination of Wilde’s life with a somewhat revisionist view of Wilde’s post-prison years.
Calloway, Stephen, and David Colvin. Oscar Wilde: An Exquisite Life. New York: Welcome Rain, 1997. A brief, heavily illustrated presentation of Wilde’s life.
Cohen, Philip K. The Moral Vision of Oscar Wilde. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1978. Examines Wilde’s writings as unified by his moral development through dialectical contraries of Old and New Testament codes. Contains illustrations, a select bibliography, and an index.
Ellmann, Richard. Oscar Wilde. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988. A biography of Wilde, drawing much insight from Wilde’s published works. The book is extensively documented and footnoted and makes use of many of Wilde’s writings and recorded conversations. Includes bibliography and appendices. For a review of this work placing Wilde’s accomplishments within the context of modern literary developments, see Magill book review.
Eriksen, Donald H. Oscar Wilde. Boston: Twayne, 1977. This small volume is a useful corrective to studies of Wilde that see him and his work as anomalies of literature and history. After a brief chapter on Wilde’s life and times, Eriksen assesses his poetry, fiction, essays, and drama. A chronology, notes and references, an annotated bibliography, and an index supplement the text.
Foldy, Michael S. The Trials of Oscar Wilde: Deviance, Morality, and Late-Victorian Society. New Haven; Conn.: Yale University Press, 1997. By analyzing the trial testimony and press coverage, Foldy argues cogently that the prosecution of Wilde was not solely based on matters of morality but was directly linked to wider social, cultural, and political issues.
Gagnier, Regenia A. Idylls of the Marketplace: Oscar Wilde and the Victorian Public. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1986. This study attempts to reach an understanding of Wilde by focusing less on his life and work and more on the relation of his work to his audiences. Leaning heavily on contemporary critical theory, it connects Wilde, Friedrich Engels, and Fyodor Dostoevski in ways that some may find more confusing than illuminating, but Gagnier’s readings of the works are generally insightful and persuasive. Includes bibliography and index.
Harris, Frank. Oscar Wilde: Including My Memories of Oscar Wilde by George Bernard Shaw. 2d ed. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1997. Harris was one of the few friends who remained loyal to Wilde after his downfall. His biography, although highly readable and full of interesting anecdotes, is not always reliable. Shaw’s afterward is a shrewd assessment of Wilde.
Holland, Merlin. The Wilde Album. New York: Henry Holt, 1998. This is a useful complement to the weightier biography by Ellmann. Holland, Wilde’s grandson, supplements his biographical narrative with various artifacts—including photographs, press clippings, and political cartoons—that document Wilde’s emergence as a media celebrity and show how Wilde consciously created his own fame. The book includes rare family photos and all twenty-eight publicity portraits made for Wilde’s 1882 U.S. tour.
Kohl, Norbert. Oscar Wilde: The Works of a Conformist Rebel. Translated by David Henry Wilson. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Interprets Wilde’s works mainly through textual analysis, although it includes discussions of the society in which Wilde lived and to which he responded. Kohl argues that Wilde was not the imitator he is often accused of being but a creative adapter of the literary traditions he inherited. Supplemented by detailed notes, a lengthy bibliography, and an index.
McCormack, Jerusha Hull. The Man Who Was Dorian Gray. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. John Gray, the supposed model for Wilde’s most famous character, is profiled in this examination of the life of a decadent poet turned priest. Although not focused on the poetry, this work reveals much about early twentieth century literary society and the emerging gay culture.
McKenna, Neil. The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde. London: Century, 2003. This controversial and groundbreaking biography focuses on how Wilde’s sexuality, and homosexuality in the Victorian era, influenced the writer’s life and work. Illustrated.
Pearce, Joseph. The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde. London: HarperCollins, 2000. Pearce avoids lingering on the actions that brought Wilde notoriety and instead explores Wilde’s emotional and spiritual search. Along with a discussion of The Ballad of Reading Gaol and the posthumously published De Profundis, Pearce also traces Wilde’s fascination with Catholicism.
Raby, Peter. Oscar Wilde. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Includes biographical information because, Raby argues, it is most useful to see Wilde as indivisible from his works. The 1881 collection of poems, he says, makes it clear that Wilde’s artistic purpose was a life’s work. Includes chronology, notes, a bibliography, and an index.
Small, Ian. Oscar Wilde: A Recent Research—A Supplement to “Oscar Wilde Revalued.” Greensboro, N.C.: ELT Press, 2000. A follow-up to Small’s earlier work on Wilde that surveys previously unknown biographical and critical materials. Includes bibliography.
Varty, Anne. A Preface to Oscar Wilde: Preface Books. New York: Longman, 1998. An introduction to the life and works, particularly the period from 1890 to 1895. Some discussion of earlier work provides a view of some of the motivating forces behind his output. Also offers a chapter on his circle. Includes index.
Wilde, Oscar. The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde. Edited by Merlin Holland and Rupert Hart-Davis. New York: Henry Holt, 2000. A collection of correspondence including previously unpublished letters that unveil the full extent of Wilde’s genius in an intimate exploration of his life and thoughts. Includes bibliographical references and indexes.