Oscar Wilde

Ali Ozymy & Sonia Patel

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Who is Oscar Wilde?

An Irish writer, born in the mid 19th century, who is best known for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and his play The Importance of Being Earnest. He is also remembered for his arrest and the events that surrounded it.


  • Wilde was born on October 16th, 1854 in Dublin, Ireland. His father, William Wilde, was a doctor, and his mother, Jane Francesca Elgee, was a poet.
  • However, it was Wilde's mother, Jane, who influenced her son's later writings. Mrs. Wilde was a poet who loved Irish folk tales and her English translation of Wilhelm Meinhold's Sidonia the Sorceress that would have the most influence on Wilde's later writings.

Childhood & Education

  • Wilde attended Portora Royal School, where he discovered a love for Greek and Roman studies. At a young age, he was described as a "bright and bookish child."
  • Wilde graduated from the Royal School in 1871, and then received a scholarship to attend Trinity College.
  • There he recieved the college's Foundation Scholarship and the Berkeley Gold Medal and the Demyship scholarship before going to Magdalen College in Oxford to continue his studies. It's safe to say that at the very least, Wilde was a good student, and eager to learn.

Early Writings (1881-1884)

  • While studying at Oxford, Wilde began to experiment with creative writing. After finishing school in Oxford, Wilde moved to London and continued writing poetry, just like his mother.
  • In 1881, he published a collection of poems, titled Poems. His early writings (mostly poetry) and lectures served to establish him as a supporter of the aesthetic movement.
  • The aesthetic movement was a theory of art and literature, popular during the later 19th century, that focused on "the pursuit of beauty for its own sake, rather than to promote any political or social viewpoint (biography.com)."

Later Family

  • Wilde married an Englishwoman, Constance Lloyd, in 1884, and they had two sons soon after.
  • Following his marriage, Wilde was hired to run a magazine of the time, Lady's World, and attempt to regain it's popularity.
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Prison Sentence

  • During the 1890s, as he was writing his most well known works he was also in a relationship with a man by the name of Lord Alfred Douglas.
  • Douglas's father eventually found out about the affair, and proceeded to insult Wilde's homosexuality. Wilde then decided he should sue Douglas's father for libel, despite the fact that Wilde's was homosexuality was hardly a secret by that time.
  • The original case was then dismissed, and Wilde ended up being convicted of gross indecency, was arrested, and was sentenced to two years in prison. Wilde spent the years 1895 to 1897 in prison, where he was physically, emotionally, and financially ruined for the remaining years of his life.

Final Works & Death & Legacy

  • Wilde wrote one last notable work after his time in prison - The Ballad of Reading Goal (1898). Two years later, at 46, Oscar Wilde died of meningitis on November 30th.
  • Wilde continues to be remembered for his two most well-known works - The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest.
  • He is often remembered more for his personal life and his influence on the aesthetic movement. In the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde wrote the following...

"All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex and vital." - Oscar Wilde

Well-Known Works

  • In 1888-1891, Wilde published a collection of children's stories, titled The Happy Prince and Other Tales and a collection of essays concerning aesthetic movement, titled Intentions.
  • When he published The Picture of Dorian Gray it was considered very controversial at the time, due to its apparent lack of morality (which Wilde defended).
  • Wilde then went on to write several plays - Lady Windermere's Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), etc.
  • His plays were constantly well-liked, and play writing became his focus. Most of his plays were satirical comedies with some sort of serious or even dark underlying message.
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Wilde and The Picture of Dorain Grey

  • Oscar never thought of himself as a charming, nor as a "beautiful" man in the way that he describes Dorian. In fact, Wilde was always aware of his physical differences: he was awkwardly tall, and was often described as a "huge worm" by his peers.

  • Wilde also created Dorian to express himself. Being that he was homosexual he could not show his feelings towards other men, and the society in which he was living did not accept homosexual practice. Dorian Gray was able to sin, be immoral and do wrong without anyone noticing the difference, which was an unattainable dream for Wilde.


"Dorian Gray as Symbolic Representation of Wilde's Personality." Dorian Gray as Symbolic

Representation of Wilde's Personality. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

"Oscar Wilde Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

"Oscar Wilde." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.

"The Official Web Site of Oscar Wilde." The Official Web Site of Oscar Wilde. Web. 10 Nov.