Why was Wilde described as having a “flamboyant” personal style?

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Oscar ( full name Fingal O'Flahertie Wills) Wilde was born in Ireland in Dublin on 16 October 1854. His father was a doctor and his mother a literary hostess and a writer herself. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and then went on to Magdalen College, Oxford which must have broadened his horizons as he then joined the aesthetic movement. After  graduation he pursued a literary life and career in London. He met lots of different people while studying and they were people from all walks of life. He was used to socialising due to his mother’s entertaining and would have been confident in company of the highest calibre. This confidence could have led to his flamboyant style. As he once said through one of his characters :

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible....”

Here is possibly the key to Wilde’s style, one of confidence and panache, not unlike the New Romantics of the post punk age.

His output was diverse writing poetry, fairytales, a novel 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' (1891) plays, including successful comedies including 'Lady Windermere's Fan' (1892), 'An Ideal Husband (1895)' and 'The Importance of Being Earnest' (1895) and Salome. After marrying  Constance Lloyd in 1884 and having two sons, he had a relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas. He sued Alfred’s father, the Marquis of Queensberry, for libel, because he accused him of being homosexual but he lost and was arrested and tried for gross indecency. He was sentenced to two years of hard labour ruining his health. After release his reputation was in ruins and spent the rest of his life writing ‘'The Ballad of Reading Gaol.’ He died in Paris on 30 November 1900.

Read the study guide:
The Importance of Being Earnest

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