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Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

*  1854 Dublin
† 1900 Paris

Oscar Wilde (specifically Oscar Fingal O' Flahertie Wills Wilde) was born on October 16, 1854 in Dublin. As a child, he had his first encounters with literature and writing. His mother was a translator and revolutionary lyricist under the pseudonym "Speranza." His father, a leading eye and ear surgeon, published books on archeology, folklore, and the satirist Jonathon Swift. Wilde attended school from 1864 until 1871, then studied classics at Trinity College, Dublin. He went to Magdalen College, Oxford in 1874 for another four years. While a student, Wilde turned his attention to writing and oriented himself according to the aesthetics of Walter Horatio Pater and John Ruskin. He published the poem "Ravenna" in 1878 and gained literary recognition with the Newdigate Prize that year. After finishing his studies, Wilde left for London and married Constance Lloyd in 1884. Wilde was admired as a writer within his prudish Victorian society but was also considered a dandy and scandal author. Wilde published many works in London, including a collection of fairy tales, "The Happy Prince and Other Tales" in 1888 and "The Picture of Dorian Gray" in 1891. He also lectured in the United States and Canada, worked for the Pall Mall Gazette from 1887 to 1889, and edited the magazine "Woman's World." Wilde wrote constantly until 1895, mainly satirical social comedies, including "Lady Windermere’s Fan" in 1892, "A Woman of No Importance" in 1893, "An Ideal Husband" in 1895 and "The Importance of Being Earnest" in 1895; this last piece satirizes the upper classes and is considered his best work. His tragedy "Salome" found no publisher after it was censured, partly for the scandalous art nouveau illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley. When Richard Strauss set the German translation to music, "Salome" the opera found worldwide appreciation. In 1895, Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labor because of his homosexuality, and his wife left the country, taking the children to live near Heidelberg, Germany, where she went by the name Constance Holland. Wilde continued writing while in the Reading penitentiary. He composed a text in the form of a letter on the inhuman conditions inside the prison. In 1905, this work was published under the title "De profundis," with objectionable passages having been cut out. In 1949, it was published completely. In 1897, Wilde was released and went to Paris. He lived the last three years of his life alone and penniless, going by the name Sebastian Melmoth. Oscar Wilde died on November 30, 1900 in the Hotel d’Alsace in Paris.