Oscar Wilde: Interesting Facts & Trivia

Oscar WildeOutside of literary circles, Oscar Wilde’s once-flamboyant lifestyle sometimes outshines his great span of work in the field of literature.  However, this famous author has penned some of classic literature’s best-loved tales.  The following are some interesting facts and trivia about life and famous works.

Oscar Wilde was born in October of 1854 in Dublin.  His given name was Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, and he was the second son of his parents.


Wilde’s parents were Anglo-Irish and were very wealthy.  His father, William Wilde, was both a scientist and a writer.  His mother, Jane Elgee Wilde, had strong political views; she was an Irish nationalist as well as a poet.


His mother not only supported nationalist fervor, but she also defended women’s rights—both serious subjects for Victorian England.  Wilde’s father was a philanthropist and supported and donated money to the city’s poor and less fortunate citizens.


It was a tradition for upper-class Victorian parents to dress their sons in girls’ fashions until they grew beyond infancy. Oscar Wilde parents dressed him in feminine garments until adolescence.


From 1864 to 1871, Wilde attended the Portora Royal School.  He excelled in the classical study and was, even then, a great story-teller.


Wilde continued his classical studies at Trinity College in Dublin.  There, he won the prestigious Berkeley Gold Medal.  He then obtained a scholarship to study at Oxford’s Magdalen College.


Oscar Wilde was raised in the cultural center of Dublin and was proud of his culture. But, he blends his writings and speech with a touch of London English.


After college, Oscar Wilde married to Florence Balcombe.  She, however, married another notable literary writer—Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula.


After the rejection from his wife, he decided to leave Ireland.  Instead, he spent his time in London, America, and Paris.  He was a lecturer in these countries.


Oscar Wilde family was Protestant and worried about his attraction to Catholicism during his stay in London.  In Victorian London, there was growing suspicion of homosexuality running through the Catholic Church.


Wilde alarmed his family by failing to take to manly interests and decorated his rooms with flowers, feathers, and blue china.  He also dressed with great decadence and grew his hair long.


John Ruskin’s and William Pater’s writings and views on art had a profound influence on Wilde.


In 1881,  Oscar Wilde published Poems.


In 1884, Wilde married Constance Lloyd.  The couple had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan.


In 1890, Wilde published The Picture of Dorian Gray.  In 1892, his play, Lady Windermere’s Fan, was performed at St. James Theatre.  At this time, Wilde became markedly bored with married life and was known to spend most of his time in the company of young men.


Oscar Wilde relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas that landed him in serious trouble for homosexual behavior.  Lord Alfred’s father, the Marquess of Queensberry, tried to forbid his son from seeing Wilde. When the Marquess of Queensberry left a card at Wilde’s club denouncing him as a sodomite, Wilde sued him for false accusations.  However, the case led detectives to uncover a considerable amount of evidence against Wilde.


In 1895, The Importance of Being Ernest was published on Valentine’s Day.


Oscar Wilde was arrested in 1895 for homosexuality.  He was found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment along with labor for two years.


Oscar Wilde son, Cyril died during WWI.   His other son, Vyvyan became a translator and author.  Both boys adopted their mother’s surname of Holland after their father’s arrest.


After Oscar  Wilde trial for homosexual behavior, Wilde’s former school, Portora, erased his name from their boards (later generations restored it).


Wilde was released from prison in 1897.  Shortly after, he left to live in France.


Constance Wilde, the mother of his two sons,  died as a result of spinal surgery in 1898.


Wilde died in 1900 in Paris from meningitis.  On his deathbed, Wilde accepted Catholicism.


Today, Wilde is celebrated for his literary genius and brilliant wit.


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