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Profile of the Day: Oscar Wilde

Profile of the Day: Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

On this day in 1854, Irish writer Oscar Wilde was born. Considered one of London’s most popular playwrights in his day, Wilde was known for his brilliant intellect, quick wit, and flamboyant personality.

He was born Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde on October 16, 1854 in Dublin, Ireland. Wilde was the second child born to Sir William Wilde, a prominent surgeon and author, and Jane Wilde, an Irish revolutionary poet who wrote under the pen name “Speranza.”

After graduating from school, Wilde moved to London to pursue his literary career. He published several poems and plays, and even embarked on a lecture tour of North America to speak about Aestheticism. In 1890, he published his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. During this time, Wilde found great fame and success as a playwright, writing popular plays such as The Importance of Being Earnest.

At the height of his success, Wilde was imprisoned for gross indecency. Wilde had sued the Marquess of Queensbury for criminal libel after the Marquess accused him of being a homosexual. When evidence of Wilde’s affair with the Marquess’ son, Lord Alfred Douglas, was revealed, Wilde’s charges were dropped and he was arrested for gross indecency. Wilde was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. After his release, Wilde moved to France and wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaoi, a poem reflecting on the harsh conditions of his life in prison. He died of meningitis on November 30, 1900 at the age of 46.

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Image: Library of Congress


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