Interesting quotes by Oscar Wilde
“Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much.”
“I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.”
“Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.”
“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
“Why was I born with such contemporaries?”
“I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.”
“The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.”
A brief biography of Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde was born on October 16, 1854 in Dublin, Ireland. He was a writer of poetry and plays, as well as an editor. He is well known for his aphorisms, his poetry, his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and his plays.
Wilde was full of charisma—from the way he spoke to the way he dressed, he was a captivating individual—and his personality alone preceded him.
Born as Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Willis Wilde, Oscar came from a reputable family. His father was Sir William Wilde—an ear, nose and throat doctor, as well as an ophthalmologist who ran his own hospital, St. Mark’s Ophthalmic Hospital for Diseases of the Eye and Ear, in Dublin. His father also write articles for the Dublin Journal of Medicinal Science. Oscar’s mother was Jane Wilde, a poet who used the pseudonym “Speranza”—meaning hope in Italian. His mother would read the Young Irelanders’ poetry to her children, instilling a love for poetry in them at a young age.
Oscar Wilde was educated at home until he was nine years old. He learned French from a French nursemaid and German from a German woman hired to educate him. In 1864, he was enrolled at Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Ireland. Afterwards, Oscar went on to Trinity College in Dublin to study classic literature. He particularly was fond of Greek Literature and he was an excellent student—first in his class—and won a scholarship to further his education at Magdalen College in Oxford. While in Oxford, Wilde was enticed by the appearance and secret rituals of the Freemasons. He joined the Apollo University Lodge, but it was short lived, and ended once he graduated from Magdalen College.
After graduating, Wilde settled in London, England. He traveled to Paris and the United States, giving lectures. While he attended Trinity College, he began publishing in magazines. In 1881, Oscar published Poems, a collection of his revised poems. The book did fairly well and sold out at 750 copies for its first print. However, Punch magazine stated, “The poet is Wilde, but his poetry’s tame”. Poems was condemned by the Oxford Union for supposed plagiarism.
In 1881, in London, Oscar met his soon to be wife, Constance Lloyd. In 1884, while Constance was visiting Dublin, Oscar was delivering a lecture there at Gaiety Theater. Later, on May 29, 1884 they got married in London at the Anglican St. James’ Church. They had two sons.
Before Robert Ross encountered Wilde in 1886, Ross had read Oscar Wilde’s poetry and became driven to seduce him. Even though there were strict and forbidding laws against homosexuality, Ross didn’t care, and he even strayed from his family to pursue the famous poet. After the birth of Oscar’s second son in 1886, he felt repulsed by his wife and their marriage began to crumble. It was at this time when Robert Ross and Oscar began their relationship.
In 1885 to 1887, Wilde became a contributor to The Pall Mall Gazette after reading an assessment regarding artistic matters. He enjoyed writing articles expressing his views on art and literature because it was less daunting than delivering lectures. Afterwards in 1887, Oscar Wilde became the editor for The Lady’s World magazine but, he changed the name of the publication to The Woman’s World, making it more substantial and including honest and genuine articles pertaining to parenting, politics and culture. Naturally, Wilde kept the articles relating to the arts and style. Two years later, Oscar left the publication, the magazine didn’t last long without him and only continued on for one issue after his depature. However, he wrotes stories and tales for other magazines. In 1891 Wilde put out another collection called Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories, followed with A House of Pomegranates, dedicating it to his wife, Constance Wilde.
In 1890, Oscar Wilde published his first and only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. It was featured in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. Originally the magazine’s editor had removed about five hundred words before publishing it without Oscar’s approval. The editor did this because he feared the story would come off as indecent. However, the editor’s censorship failed and the novel offended book reviewers regardless, claiming that Oscar Wilde “violated the laws protecting public morality”. The Daily Chronicle called it “poisonous, unclean and heavy with the mephitic odours of moral and spiritual putrefaction”. Oscar Wilde defended his work vehemently, and published the book again in 1891 after revising and adding to the text. In the new version of The Picture of Dorian Gray, he included a preface, defending his rights and defending art for art’s sake.
Sometime in 1891, Oscar Wilde met Lord Alfred Douglas. After establishing an intimate friendship, Oscar Wilde became infatuated with him. Douglas’ father, John Sholto Douglas Marquess of Queensberry, did not approve of their relationship and often confronted both of them. At one point, Douglas’ father said “I do not say that you are it, but you look it, and pose at it, which is just as bad. And if I catch you and my son again in any public restaurant I will thrash you” Oscar Wilde replied with “I don’t know what the Queensberry rules are, but the Oscar Wilde rule is to shoot on sight.” In February of 1895, Douglas’ father left his card for Oscar at the Albemarle, a club Wilde attended, the card said “For Oscar Wilde, posing somdomite”. When that happened, Oscar decided he would have the Marquess of Queensberry prosecuted for criminal libel, and he was arrested. The only way for Douglas’ father to not be convicted was to prove his accusation was true. The Marquess of Queensberry then hired private detectives in order to expose Wilde and free himself. On April 3, 1895, Oscar Wilde was arrested for “gross indecency” and his prosection began on April 26 of that year. Though he pled not guilty, on May 25 he was convicted and sentenced to prison for two years.
He shuffled between prisons, beginning at Newgate Prison in London, and then when he was in Wandsworth Prison, he collapsed from harsh conditions—his right ear rupturing—leaving him hospitalized for two months. Finally, he was transferred to Reading Gaol, where he penned De Profundis, a letter he composed to his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. In May 1897 Oscar Wilde was released from prison and gave the letter to Robert Ross, instructing him to send a copy to Lord Alfred Douglas. However, it’s uncertain if Ross ever followed through.
In November 1900, Oscar Wilde was diagnosed with meningitis. Later that month, on November 30, he died. His letter, De Profundis, was partially published in 1905 and fully published in 1962. Lord Alfred Douglas denied ever receiving it.
Oscar Wilde was buried in the Cimetière de Bagneux just outside of Paris, France, but in 1909, his remains were moved to Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France. The inscription on his tombstone is from The Ballad of Reading Gaol, the last poem he wrote while he was imprisoned after a man was executed. The inscription was:
“And alien tears will fill for him Pity’s long-broken urn, For his mourners will be outcast men, And outcasts always mourn.”
In 2017, Oscar Wilde was pardoned under the Alan Turning Law, which stated that homosexual acts were no longer considered crimes. In 2014, he was honored in the Rainbow Honor Walk in San Francisco, California. In 1998, a sculpture was unveiled to the public in central London called, A Conversation with Oscar Wilde, resembling a sarcophagus-bench, it has a bust of Wilde’s head at the one end with his hand hlding a cigarette.
Robert Ross wrote a letter to a friend and expressed his feelings of loss saying “Later on, I think everyone will recognise his achievements; his plays and essays will endure. Of course, you may think with others that his personality and conversation were far more wonderful than anything he wrote, so that his written works give only a pale reflection of his power. Perhaps that is so, and of course, it will be impossible to reproduce what is gone forever.”
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