Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest

Biography (excerpts):

Oscar Wilde (FINGAL O'FLAHERTIE WILLS), (October 16, 1854-November 30, 1900), Irish author and aesthete, was born into a respectable, if flamboyant, middle-class Dublin family. His father, Sir William Wilde was an eminent surgeon, his mother, Jane Francesca Elgee ('Speranza'), a well-known poet. Both parents were Irish nationalists-- Sir William collected Irish folklore, and Lady Wilde wrote romantic nationalist poetry and translated Celtic tales under the name 'Speranza'. Their house at 1 Merrion Square was a centre of Dublin social and artistic life. Lady Wilde's talent for self- publicity and for inventive selffashioning (e.g. her adoption of Italian names, based on a probably spurious claim that her family was of Italian origin), her love of poetry and languages, and her extravagant dress were all models for the young Oscar.

Wilde was a pioneer of the modern art of celebrity, becoming famous more for his 'personality' than his works. After settling in London in 1879 he continued to cultivate this eccentric and brilliant persona, and his self-publicizing was aided by satirists such as and W. S. Gilbert, who used Wilde as the main model for the long-haired, lily- sporting aesthete Bunthorne in his 1881 comic opera. In fact, Wilde and his satirists publicized each other: Wilde's extensive lecture tour of North America in 1882 was organized by Richard D'Oyly Carte to coincide with the tour of, and was intended to introduce aestheticism to the American public. Wilde saw his role as that of 'civilising America', preaching practical aestheticism in the face of what he saw as a prevalent vulgar materialism.


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In His Own Words:


Oscar Wilde Chronology:

Oscar Wilde. Donald H. Ericksen. Twayne's English Authors Series 211. Boston: Twayne Publishers,

1977. From The Twayne Authors Series.


COPYRIGHT 1977 Twayne Publishers, COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning


1854     Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde born October 16 at 21 Westland Row, Dublin, Ireland. 


1864     Enrolled at the Portora Royal School, Enniskillen. 


1867     Death of his sister Isola later commemorated in the poem "Requiescat." 


1871     On October 10 entered Trinity College, Dublin.


1874     Matriculated at Magdalen College, Oxford, as Demy.


1877     March and April. Traveled in Italy with John Pentland Mahaffy.


1878     Won the Oxford Newdigate Prize for Poetry with "Ravenna," took a First in Greats, received B. A. degree November 28.


1879     Autumn. Shared rooms at 13 Salisbury Street, London, with Frank Miles. 


1881     Published Poems


1882     Arrived in New York January 9 for lecture tour. Sailed December 27 for England. 


1883     Visited New York briefly for the opening of Vera. Became engaged to Constance Lloyd. 


1884     Married May 29, 1884. 


1885     First son Cyril born June 5. 


1886     Second son V yvyan born November 3. 


1887     Became editor of The Woman's World


1888     Published The Happy Prince and Other Tales


1890     Published the serial version of The Picture of Dorian Gray in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine.


1891     The Duchess of Padua produced in New York under the title Guido Ferranti. The Picture of Dorian Gray published in book form. Intentions, Lord Arthur 

            Savile's Crime and Other Stories, and A House of Pomegranates published.


1892     Lady Windermere's Fan produced. Salome banned by the Lord Chamberlain.


1893     A Woman of No Importance produced. Salome published in French.


1894     Salome, illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley, published in English. The Sphinx published.


1895     An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest produced. Wilde tried and sentenced to two years hard labor May 25.


1896     Salome produced in Paris. Lady Wilde died. 


1897     De Profundis written at Reading Gaol. Released from imprisonment May 19. Went to France, never to return to England. 


1898     The Ballad of Reading Gaol published. Constance Wilde died. 1900 Died in Hotel d'Alsace, Paris.

Source Citation: "Chronology." Oscar Wilde. Donald H. Ericksen. Twayne's English Authors Series 211. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1977. Literature Resources from Gale. Gale. Los Angeles Public Library. 10 Nov. 2009 <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/start.do? p=LitRG&u=lapl>. 

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