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Oscar Wilde

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"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all"

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was a playwright, poet, novelist, story-writer, journalist, essayist, epigrammist, father, husband, and convicted homosexual. He was a daunting wit, a committed aesthete, and remains a lasting icon.

Oscar Fingal O'Flahterie Wilde was born in Dublin on 16 October, 1854, the second of three children. His father, Sir William Wilde, was Ireland's best oto-optamologic, knighted for medical services, and collector and publisher of Irish folklore. His mother, Jane Francesca Wilde, was an Irish nationalist, a poet who published under the pseudonym 'Speranza', and the centre of a literary salon. In February 1867 Oscar's little sister Isola died, and he carried a lock of her hair thereafter. By the time he finished school in 1871, Wilde had won a scholarship to Trinity College, Dublin, where he studied classics with John Pentland Mahaffy and Robert Yelverton Turrell. Mahaffy, whom Wilde called his 'first and best teacher', would later inspire Wilde's character Prince Paul Maraloffski in Vera. In his final year Wilde won Trinity College's highest academic award in Greek, the Berkeley Gold Medal, and received a demyship to study Greats and Classics at Magdalen College, Oxford. Read more.

# Title Description Contributor
1 Late Victorian into Modern

In this TORCH Book at Lunchtime event, co-editors Laura Marcus (Oxford) and Kirsten Shepherd-...

Kirsten Shepherd-Barr, Laura Marcus
2 Oscar Wilde in Vienna: Pleasing and Teasing the Audience

A joint event hosted by the Theatre Studies and Queer Studies Networks. Sandra Mayer, author of...

Sandra Mayer, Mary Luckhurst, Dominic Janes, Stefano Evangelista
3 Making Oscar Wilde

A Book at Lunchtime seminar with Michele Mendelssohn, literary critic and cultural historian. Dr...

Michèle Mendelssohn, Sos Eltis, Hermione Lee, Charles Foster
4 Brilliant Paradoxes and Corrosive Epigrams; or Why Oscar Wilde Went to Trial

In this Open Day taster lecture, Sos Eltis explores the complex causes which motivated Oscar...

Sos Eltis
5 Oscar Wilde's Love Beyond the Grave

Michèle Mendelssohn gives a TORCH bite-size talk at the Ashmolean Museum's DEADFriday event

Michèle Mendelssohn
6 Making Oscar Wilde

Michèle Mendelssohn's book Making Oscar Wilde reveals the untold story of young Oscar’s career...

Michèle Mendelssohn
7 The Victorians: Gender and Sexuality (lecture)

Free public lecture by Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA. From Gresham College. Available as video...

Richard Evans
# Title Description Contributor
1 5. Wilde's Plays

In the fifth lecture in the Oscar Wilde series, Sos Eltis talks about Wilde's plays including an...

Sos Eltis
2 4. Wilde and Sexuality

Sos Eltis gives the fourth lecture in her Oscar Wilde series, looking at Wilde's sexuality and...

Sos Eltis
3 3. Art and Morality

Sos Eltis gives the third lecture in the series on Oscar Wilde, focussing on Wilde's...

Sos Eltis
4 2. Wilde, Victorian and Modernist

Sos Eltis gives the second lecture in her series on Oscar Wilde, focussing on his place in the...

Sos Eltis
5 1. The Art of Biography and the Biography of Art

The first lecture in the Oscar Wilde series in which Sos Eltis talks about Wilde's life and...

Sos Eltis
6 Oscar Wilde's Women

Sophie Duncan introduces Oscar Wilde by setting him in an accurate historical context.

Sophie Duncan
# Essay Title Description Contributor
1 Victorian Gothic: An Introduction

In the time of early Victorian technology, steam-trains and the electric telegraph, many writers...

Julian Thompson
2 The Importance of Being Wilde

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all" ...

Kate O'Connor
# Title Description Author
1 Essays, criticisms and reviews

London : Privately printed [for Wright and Jones?]

Oscar Wilde
2 The Soul of Man under Socialism Oscar Wilde
3 De Profundis

The Rise of Historical Criticism [published in incomplete form 1905 and completed form in 1908...

Oscar Wilde
4 The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde
5 Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, and other stories

Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime
The Canterville Ghost [1887]

Oscar Wilde
6 A House of Pomegranates

The Young King
The Birthday of the Infanta
The Fisherman...

Oscar Wilde
7 The Happy Prince and other stories

Illustrated by Charles Robinson [1888]
Contents: The Happy Prince — The Nightingale and...

Oscar Wilde
8 Salomé

Salomé: A Tragedy in One Act / translated from the French of Oscar Wilde, with illustrations by...

Oscar Wilde
9 A Woman of No Importance

First performed 1893

Oscar Wilde
10 Oscar Wilde, His Life and Confessions Frank Harris
11 Lady Windermere's Fan Oscar Wilde
12 The Ballad of Reading Gaol Oscar Wilde
13 Collected Poems

Miscellaneous Poems
The Burden of Itys

Oscar Wilde
14 Shakespeare and Stage Costume

Text upon which this Online Edition is Based: “Shakespeare and Stage Costume,” in The...

Oscar Wilde
15 The Decay of Lying: a Dialogue

Text upon which this Online Edition is Based: “The Decay of Lying: a Dialogue,” in The...

Oscar Wilde
16 Pen, Pencil, and Poison: A Study

Text upon which this Online Edition is Based: First version, in Fortnightly Review, January 1889...

Oscar Wilde
17 The True Function and Value of Criticism


Oscar Wilde
18 Oscar Wilde: His Life and Confessions Frank Harris
# Resource Title Description Contributor
1 Photograph of Oscar Wilde

By Napoleon Sarony (Library of Congress) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

2 The Peacock Skirt

Illustration by Aubrey Beardsley, used for Oscar Wilde's play Salomé (1892) [Public domain], via...

# Resource Title Description Contributor
1 Oscar Wilde reads The Ballad of Reading Gaol ...