Oscar Wilde Additional Biography


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born to ambitious, successful Irish parents in Dublin in 1854. As a young man he attended Trinity College, and in 1874 (at age twenty) he entered Magdalen College, Oxford, on a scholarship. Wilde was drawn to art criticism and literature in his studies, and he was strongly influenced by several mentors, most notably writers John Ruskin and Walter Pater. At college Wilde discovered, developed, and began to refine his extraordinary gifts of creativity, analysis, and expression. These he pressed into the service of aestheticism, an iconoclastic artistic movement, promoted by Pater, that advocated art for art’s sake. Wilde would come to personify aestheticism, with all its intellectual refinement, provocative posing, and hedonistic excess.

Wilde married Constance Lloyd in 1884 and with her had two sons. Although throughout his short life Wilde evinced great love and devotion to his wife and sons, he grew increasingly involved in sexual liaisons with men. Most notably and tragically, Wilde became engrossed in an obsessive and rocky gay friendship with Lord Alfred Douglas, the son of the marquis of Queensberry. Douglas helped to lead Wilde deeper into London’s gay underworld. While Douglas at times seemed to love Wilde genuinely, he periodically became impatient, selfish, and abusive toward his older friend. Still, Wilde remained, with increasing recklessness, committed to Douglas.

During the second...

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(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland, on October 16, 1854. Flamboyance, so characteristic of the adult Wilde, was an obvious quality of both of his parents. His father was noted for physical dirtiness and love affairs, one of which led to a lawsuit and public scandal. Something of a social revolutionary, his mother published poetry and maintained a salon for intellectual discussion in her later years. Wilde grew up in this environment, showing both insolence and genius. He was an excellent student at all his schools. He attended Portora Royal School, Trinity College in Dublin, and then won a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford. At this time, John Ruskin was lecturing, and Wilde was influenced by Ruskin’s ideas and style. More important, he heard and met Walter Pater, who had recently published his Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873). It is Pater’s influence that is most obvious in Wilde’s development as a poet. While at Oxford, Wilde visited Italy and Greece, and this trip strengthened the love of classical culture so obvious in his poetry.

In the 1880’s, as he developed as a writer, he also became a public personality. He toured the United States for about a year, and in both the United States and England, he preached an aesthetic doctrine that had its origins in the Pre-Raphaelites and Pater. He married in 1883 and had two sons. Wilde serially published his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, which immediately created a sensation with the public. Thereafter, he wrote a number of plays, most notably Lady Windermere’s Fan and The Importance of Being Earnest.

Wilde’s last decade involved the scandal over his sexuality. His chief male lover was Lord Alfred Douglas, whose father, the marquess of Queensberry, tried to end Wilde’s liaison with his son and ruin Wilde socially. Consequently, Wilde sued the marquess of Queensberry for libel but lost the case and also had his sexuality revealed. Tried twice for homosexuality, a crime in England at the time, he was found guilty and sentenced to two years at hard labor. From his prison experiences, Wilde wrote his most famous poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Released from prison, he wandered over the Continent for three years, broken physically and ruined financially. He died in Paris at the age of forty-six.


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

0111201605-Wilde.jpg Oscar Wilde (Library of Congress) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, on October 16, 1854, into a respected family, Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was the second son of Sir William Robert Wills Wilde and his wife, Lady Jane Francesca Elgee Wilde. His father, a noted ear and eye surgeon, wrote some twenty books in his lifetime, including Practical Observations on Aural Surgery, and the Nature and Treatment of Diseases of the Ear (1853), a standard textbook. Lady Wilde, under the pseudonym “Speranza,” wrote inflammatory articles about Irish nationalism and women’s rights. She gained celebrity in 1848 when she admitted writing an article in Nation that caused the head of the Young Ireland Party to be tried for high treason. She told the court that she alone was the culprit, thereby becoming the heroine of the movement. She published poems, essays, stories, and folklore.

Wilde was a bright youngster who took prizes in religious and classical studies at Portora Royal School, which he and his older brother Willie (born in 1852) attended. In 1871, Oscar entered Trinity College, Dublin, and gained sufficient recognition in classical studies that, in 1874, he won the Classical Demyship to Magdalen College, Oxford. John Mahaffy, who taught ancient history at Trinity College, greatly influenced Wilde. He supported him for the Oxford scholarship. Wilde spent the summer of 1874 helping Mahaffy, a uniquely skilled conversationalist, revise his Social Life in Greece from Homer to Menander (1874). He spent two summers traveling with Mahaffy and others through Italy and Greece.

Wilde blossomed at Oxford, where his witty conversation made him popular. His long poem, Ravenna (1878), won him the Newdigate Prize, which included the publication of the poem as a pamphlet. He received his bachelor’s degree from Oxford in 1878, but his demyship was extended, enabling him to study further. He was particularly affected by Walter Pater, a fellow at Brasenose College, and John Ruskin, Slade Professor of Art, both of whom promoted aestheticism. Ruskin differed from Pater in believing that art should have a high moral purpose. Pater promoted art for art’s sake, a doctrine that became Wilde’s credo.

Wilde, sharing rooms in London with Frank Miles in 1879, created an aesthetic environment built around white lilies, objets d’art, and peacock feathers—many peacock feathers. At their digs gathered artists, aesthetes, and people in theater, including Lillie Langtry, who was fast becoming famous through Miles’s drawings of her. Wilde and...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Oscar Wilde’s life was an outrageously interesting one that grew wholly sensational toward its close. Wilde lived a philosophy that perhaps was not meant for living, but he appears to have believed in it and to have accepted it fully. Art for art’s sake remained his credo even after his imprisonment, although it is not reflected in The Ballad of Reading Gaol, which is his maverick work. De profundis, written in prison, leaves little doubt about what Wilde really accepted philosophically.

Although the comparisons of Wilde to William Shakespeare abroad when his plays were running in the West End are gross exaggerations, one cannot deny that Wilde was a remarkably able playwright who, by defying social and dramatic conventions simultaneously, created plays that articulated well the aestheticism espoused by Walter Pater. Wilde’s often neglected essays on criticism are also significant and deserve further study and consideration. In these essays are articulated the maxims by which Wilde tried to live and write.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born the second son of Sir William Robert Wills Wilde, surgeon oculist in ordinary to the Queen, and Jane Francesca Elgee Wilde, known as the Irish revolutionary author “Speranza.” Early noted for his casual brilliance, Wilde won prizes at the Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, and later in Trinity College, Dublin, where the Reverend John Mahaffy encouraged Wilde’s passion for Hellenic culture. Having studied under two famous masters, John Ruskin and Walter Pater, Wilde achieved recognition at Magdalen College, Oxford, for taking double firsts in classics examinations and for winning the Newdigate Prize for the poem “Ravenna” in 1878.

Famous for his peacock feathers, sunflowers, dados, blue china, long hair, velveteen breeches, and later his green carnations, Wilde first distinguished himself with the public as the leader of London’s art-for-art’s-sake school of aesthetics. He and his cohorts were lampooned in cartoons, novels, and comic opera, but he remained a sought-after conversationalist. Everyone eagerly followed his outrageous affectations, witty sayings, and paradoxes; and no one ever heard him utter an oath or an off-color remark.

When Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience (1881), a spoof of aestheticism, was to tour North America, Richard D’Oyly Carte engaged Wilde for a lecture series to promote American interest in the operetta. Then, following a stint in Paris, where he mingled with the artistic elite and wrote the quasi-Elizabethan tragedy The Duchess of Padua, Wilde returned to the United States to see Vera, his political romance set in revolutionary Russia, open and close after one week on the boards. He went back to Great Britain to lecture on Impressions of America and there rekindled his acquaintance with Constance Mary Lloyd, the daughter of a prominent Irish barrister, whom he married in 1884 and with whom he had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan. In 1886 Wilde met Robert Ross, the unfailing friend who most aided Wilde after his release from prison and who, after Wilde’s death, fought to protect his corpus and resurrect his name. From 1887 to 1889 Wilde edited The Lady’s World magazine—changing the title...

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(History of the World: The 19th Century)

Article abstract: Wilde’s comedies, including such masterpieces as The Importance of Being Earnest, were the finest seen on the English stage for many years and have endured as witty testaments to his artistic credo that art is superior to life.

Early Life

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland, the second son of Sir William Wilde, a prominent surgeon, and Jane Wilde (née Elgee), a poet and Irish nationalist. He was raised in an affluent, successful, and intellectually stimulating home. From an early age, Oscar and his brother Willie were allowed to sit at the foot of the adults’ dinner table and listen to the conversations of the Wildes and their guests, many of...

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(Drama for Students)

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland, on October 16,1854. His father, Sir William Wilde, was an...

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(Short Stories for Students)

An important figure in the literary Decadence movement, a literary movement that challenged Victorian standards at the end of the nineteenth...

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(Drama for Students)

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(Novels for Students)

Irish poet, novelist, and playwright Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born on October 16, 1854, the son of Sir William Wilde, a...

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(Drama for Students)

The writer and wit known as Oscar Wilde was born Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde in Dublin, Ireland, on October 16, 1854. This lavish...

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(Drama for Students)

Oscar Wilde Published by Gale Cengage

Oscar (Fingal O'Flahertie Wills) Wilde was born on October 15 (though some sources cite October 16), 1854 (some sources cite 1856), in...

(The entire section is 665 words.)


(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

By the 1890’s, Oscar Wilde was the most popular playwright in London. His successes included Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). Nevertheless, censorship of his work began with his very first play, Vera, or the Nihilists, scheduled for performance in 1881. Set in Russia around 1800, the play was based on the 1878 assassination of a St. Petersburg police official by an eighteen-year-old girl—who became the heroine of Wilde’s play. Following the assassinations of Russian czar Alexander II on March 13, 1881, and U.S. president James A. Garfield—who died on September 9, 1881—unofficial...

(The entire section is 487 words.)