Oscar Wilde


Oscar Wilde (real name Oscar Fingal O\'Flahertie Wills Wilde) was born on
October 16th, 1854 in Dublin. His father, William Robert Wilde, was an eminent
eye doctor, with an interest in myths and folklore. He was the founder of the
first eye and ear hospital in Great Britain, as well as the appointed Surgeon
Occultist to the Queen, who knighted him. His mother, Jane Francesca Elgee
Wilde, was a poet who wrote patriotic Irish verse under the pen name Speranza,
and had a considerable following. As a youngster, Wilde was exposed to the
brilliant literary talk of the day at his mother\'s Dublin salon.

In 1864 Wilde entered the Portora Royal School at Enniskillen, and in
1871 entered Trinity College in Dublin. In 1874 he left Ireland and went to
England to attend Magdalen College at Oxford. As a student there, he excelled
in classics, wrote poetry, and incorporated the Bohemian life style of his youth
into a unique way of life. He came under the influence of aesthetic innovators
such as English writers Walter Pater and John Ruskin. He found the aesthetic
movement\'s notions of "art for art\'s sake" and dedicating one\'s life to art
suitable to his temperament and talents. As an aesthete, Wilde wore long hair
and velvet knee breeches, and became known for his eccentricity as well as his
academic ability. His rooms were filled with various objets d\'art such as
sunflowers, peacock feathers, and blue china. Wilde frequently confided that
his greatest challenge at University was learning to live up to the perfection
of the china. Wilde won numerous academic prizes while studying there,
including the Newdigate Prize, a coveted poetry award, for his poem Ravenna.

In 1879 Wilde moved to London to make himself famous. He set about
establishing himself as the leader and model of the aesthetic movement. Besides
his hair and breeches, he added loose-fitting wide-collared silk shirts with
flowing ties and lavender colored gloves. He frequently carried a jewel-topped
cane and was caricatured in the press flamboyantly attired and holding an over-
sized sunflower, an icon of the movement. Wilde quickly became well known
despite having any substantial achievements to build on. His natural wit and
good humor endeared him to the art and theater world, and through his lover
Frank Miles, he found it easy to become part of the cliques that frequented
London\'s theater circuit and drawing rooms. He became a much desired party
guest, and eventually his popularity led to his being chosen as an advance
publicity man for a new Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, Patience, that spoofed
aesthetes like himself.

In 1881, Wilde\'s first book of poems, called Poems, was published. In
1882, short of money, he accepted an invitation to embark on a lecture tour of
America. He produced his first play in New York City, called Vera, about
nihilism in Russia. According to some, it was canceled at the last moment,
probably for political reasons; others say he saw it performed there but that
it ran unsuccessfully. Throughout that year he lectured in 70 American cities
as well as Ontario and Quebec in Canada on the arts and literature. The tour was
an unmitigated smash and Wilde returned to London in 1883 in triumph and richer
by several thousand pounds.

By the time he returned from America he had already tired of being the
Great Aesthete and began dressing more conventionally. He did a successful tour
of the U.K. He also wrote his second unsuccessful play, The Duchess Of Padua.
In 1884, he married Constance Lloyd, the daughter of an Irish barrister. They
had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan. The family moved into a house in Chelsea, an
artist section of London. In 1887, he took a job at Woman\'s World, a popular
magazine for which he wrote literary criticism. In 1888 he published The Happy
Prince and Other Tales, a collection of original fairy tales which he wrote for
his sons. Two years later he tired of journalism and journalists. He returned
to partying and spending his time with friends and lovers, often overstepping
the bounds of what was considered morally and socially proper for the time.

In 1890 his novel, The Picture Of Dorian Gray, was published in
Lippincott\'s Magazine. It raised a storm of protest to thinly veiled allusions
to the protagonist\'s homosexuality. In 1891 he published Intentions, a
collection of dialogues about the aesthetic philosophy; Lord Arthur Savile\'s
Crime, a collection of short stories; and A House Of Pomegranates, a collection
of children\'s\' stories. He also produced The Duchess Of Padua. In that same
year he met and befriended Lord Alfred Douglas, the son