Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was born in Dublin to unconventional parents. His mother, Lady Jane Francesca Wilde (1820-96), was a poet and journalist. Her pen name was Sperenza. According to a story she warded off creditors by reciting Aeschylus. Wilde's father was Sir William Wilde, an Irish antiquarian, gifted writer, and specialist in diseases of the eye and ear, who founded a hospital in Dublin a year before Oscar was born. His work gained for him the honorary appointment of Surgeon Oculist in Ordinary to the Queen. Lady Wilde, who was active in the women's rights movement, was reputed to ignore her husbands amorous adventures.
Wilde studied at Portora Royal School, in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh (1864-71), Trinity College, Dublin (1871-74) and Magdalen College, Oxford (1874-78), where he was taught by Walter Patewr and John Ruskin. Already at the age of 13, Wilde's tastes in clothes were dandy's. "The flannel shirts you sent in the hamper are both Willie's mine are one quite scarlet and the other lilac but it is too hot to wear them yet," he wrote in a letter to his mother. Willie, whom he mentioned, was his elder brother. Lady Wilde's third and last child was a daughter, named Isola Francesca, who died young. It has been said that Lady Wilde insisted on dressing Oscar in girl's clothers because she had longed for a girl.
In Oxford Wilde shocked the pious dons with his irreverent attitude towards religion and was jeered at his eccentric clothes. He collected blue china and peacock's feathers, and later his velvet knee-breeches drew much attention. In 1878 Wilde received his B.A. and on the same year he moved to London. His lifestyle and humorous wit made him soon spokesman for Aestheticism, the late 19th century movement in England that advocated art for art's sake. He worked as art reviewer (1881), lectured in the United States and Canada (1882), and lived in Paris (1883). Between the years 1883 and 1884 he lectured in Britain. From the mid-1880s he was regular contributor for Pall Mall Gazette and Dramatic View.
In 1884 Wilde married Constance Lloyd (died 1898) and to support his family Wilde edited in 1887-89 Woman's World magazine. In 1888 he published The Happy Prince and Other Tales, fairy-stories written for his two sons. The Picture of Dorian Gray followed in 1890 and next year he brought out more fairy tales. The marriage ended in 1893. Wilde had met an few years earlier Lord Alfred Douglas ("Bosie"), an athlete and a poet, who became both the love of the author's life and his downfall. "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it," Wilde once said. Bosie's uncle, Lord Jim, caused a scandal when he filled in the 1891 census describing his wife as a "lunatic" and his stepson as a "shoeblack born in darkest Africa."
Wilde made his reputation in theatre world between the years 1892 and 1895 with a series of highly popular plays. Lady Wintermere's Fan (1892) dealt with a blackmailing divorcee driven to self-sacrifice by maternal love. In A Woman of No Importance (1893) an illegitimate son is torn between his father and mother. An Ideal Husband (1895) dealt with blackmail, political corruption and public and private honour. The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) was a comedy of manners. John Worthing (who prefers to call himself Jack) and Algernon Moncrieff (Algy) are two fashionable young gentlemen. John tells that he has a brother called Ernest, but in town John himself is known as Ernest and Algernon also pretends to be the profligate brother Ernest. "Relly, if the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them?" (from The Importance of Being Earnest) Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew are two ladies whom the two snobbish characters court. Gwendolen declares that she never travels without her diary because "one should always have something sensational to read in the train".
Before the theatrical success Wilde produced several essays, many of these anonymously. "Anybody can write a three-volume novel. It merely requires a complete ignorance of both life and literature," he once stated. His two major literary-theoretical works were the dialogues 'The Decay of Lying' (1889) and 'The Critic as Artist' (1890). In the latter Wilde lets his character state, that criticism is the superior part of creation, and that the critic must not be fair, rational, and sincere, but possessed of "a temperament exquisitely susceptible to beauty". In a more traditional essay The Soul of a Man Under Socialism (1891) Wilde takes an optimistic view of the road to socialist future. He rejects the Christian ideal of self-sacrifice in favor of joy. "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it."
Although married and the father of two children, Wilde's personal life was open to rumours. His years of triumph ended dramatically, when his intimate association with Alfred Douglas led to his trial on charges of homosexuality (then illegal in Britain). He was sentenced two years hard labour for the crime of sodomy. During his first trial Wilde defended himself, that "the 'Love that dare not speak its name' in this century is such a great affection of an eleder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare... There is nothing unnatural about it." Mr. Justice Wills, stated when pronouncing the sentence, that "people who can do these things must be dead to all senses of shame, and one cannot hope to produce any effect upon them." During the trial and while he served his sentence, Bosie stood by Wilde, although the author felt himself betrayed. Later they met in Naples.
Wilde was first in Wandsworth prison, London, and then Reading Gaol. When he was at last allowed pen and paper after more than 19 months of deprivation, Wilde had became inclined to take opposite views on the potential of humankind toward perfection. During this time he wrote DE PROFUNDIS (1905), a dramatic monologue and autobiography, which was addressed to Alfred Douglas. "Everything about my tragedy has been hideous, mean, repellent, lacking in style. Our very dress makes us grotesques. We are the zanies of sorrow. We are the clowns whose hearts are broken." (De Profundis)
After his release in 1897 Wilde lived under the name Sebastian Melmoth in Berneval, near Dieppe, then in Paris. He wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol, revealing his concern for inhumane prison conditions. It is said, that on his death bed Wilde became a Roman Catholic. He died of cerebral meningitis on November 30, 1900, penniless, in a cheap Paris hotel at the age of 46. "Do you want to know the great drama of my life," asked Wilde before his death of Andre Gide. "It's that I have put my genius into my life; all I've put into my works is my talent."
Biography source: http://www.readprint.com
Poems By Oscar Wilde
1: A Villanelle
2: A Vision
5: AT VERONA
10: By The Arno
17: E TENEBRIS
18: Easter Day+ View All Poems
Quotes By Oscar Wilde
"A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing."
"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."
"A man can't be too careful in the choice of his enemies."
"A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction."
"A poet can survive everything but a misprint."
"A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."
"A true friend stabs you in the front."
"A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament."
"Ah, well, then I suppose I shall have to die beyond my means."
"Alas, I am dying beyond my means."
"All art is quite useless."
"All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling."
"All that I desire to point out is the general principle that life imitates art far more than art imitates life."
"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his."
"Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much."
"Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds."
"Ambition is the last refuge of the failure."
"America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between."
"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all."
"Arguments are extremely vulgar, for everyone in good society holds exactly the same opinion."
"Arguments are to be avoided: they are always vulgar and often convincing."
"Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known."
"As long as a woman can look ten years younger than her own daughter, she is perfectly satisfied."
"As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular."
"As yet, Bernard Shaw hasn't become prominent enough to have any enemies, but none of his friends like him."
"At 46 one must be a miser; only have time for essentials."
"Beauty is a form of genius - is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon."
"Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship."
"Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same."
"Biography lends to death a new terror."
"By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community."
"Charity creates a multitude of sins."
"Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them."
"Conscience and cowardice are really the same things. Conscience is the trade-name of the firm. That is all."
"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."
"Consistency is the last resort of the unimaginative."
"Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative."
"Deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance."
"Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people."
"Do you really think it is weakness that yields to temptation? I tell you that there are terrible temptations which it requires strength, strength and courage to yield to."
"Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."
"Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter."
"Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."
"Everything popular is wrong."
"Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing."
"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes."
"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."
"Fathers should be neither seen nor heard. That is the only proper basis for family life."
"Hatred is blind, as well as love."
"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."
"He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realise."
"He must have a truly romantic nature, for he weeps when there is nothing at all to weep about."
"He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time."
"How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being."
"How marriage ruins a man! It is as demoralizing as cigarettes, and far more expensive."
"I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself."
"I am not young enough to know everything."
"I can resist everything except temptation."
"I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies."
"I dislike arguments of any kind. They are always vulgar, and often convincing."
"I have nothing to declare except my genuis."
"I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best."
"I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy."
"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train."
"I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works."
"I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being."
"I see when men love women. They give them but a little of their lives. But women when they love give everything."
"I sometimes think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated his ability."
"I suppose society is wonderfully delightful. To be in it is merely a bore. But to be out of it is simply a tragedy."
"I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability."
"I want my food dead. Not sick, not dying, dead."
"If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all."
"If one could only teach the English how to talk, and the Irish how to listen, society here would be quite civilized."
"If one plays good music, people don't listen and if one plays bad music people don't talk."
"If there was less sympathy in the world, there would be less trouble in the world."
"If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life."
"If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn't. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism."
"Illusion is the first of all pleasures."
"In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane."
"In America the President reigns for four years, and Journalism governs forever and ever."
"In America the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience."
"In England people actually try to be brilliant at breakfast. That is so dreadful of them! Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast."
"In every first novel the hero is the author as Christ or Faust."
"In married life three is company and two none."
"It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information."
"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."
"It is an odd thing, but every one who disappears is said to be seen at San Francisco. It must be a delightful city, and possess all the attractions of the next world."
"It is better to be beautiful than to be good. But... it is better to be good than to be ugly."
"It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating."
"It is only an auctioneer who can equally and impartially admire all schools of art."
"It is perfectly monstrous the way people go about, nowadays, saying things against one behind one's back that are absolutely and entirely true."
"It is through art, and through art only, that we can realise our perfection."
"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it."
"Its failings notwithstanding, there is much to be said in favor of journalism in that by giving us the opinion of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community."
"Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead."
"Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one."
"Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life."
"Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about."
"Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not."
"Life is too important to be taken seriously."
"Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason."
"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."
"Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us."
"Men always want to be a woman's first love - women like to be a man's last romance."
"Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess."
"Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike."
"Most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event."
"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."
"Most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes."
"Mrs. Allonby: No man does. That is his."
"Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory."
"Music makes one feel so romantic - at least it always gets on one's nerves - which is the same thing nowadays."
"My great mistake, the fault for which I can't forgive myself, is that one day I ceased my obstinate pursuit of my own individuality."
"No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist."
"No man is rich enough to buy back his past."
"No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly."
"No woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating."
"Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul."
"Nothing is so aggravating than calmness."
"Nothing makes one so vain as being told one is a sinner. Conscience makes egotists of us all."
"Now that the House of Commons is trying to become useful, it does a great deal of harm."
"Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out."
"Of course America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been hushed up."
"Of course I have played outdoor games. I once played dominoes in an open air cafe in Paris."
"One can survive everything, nowadays, except death, and live down everything except a good reputation."
"One of the many lessons that one learns in prison is, that things are what they are and will be what they will be."
"One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry."
"One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards."
"One's past is what one is. It is the only way by which people should be judged."
"Only the shallow know themselves."
"Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you."
"Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more."
"Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious."
"Perhaps, after all, America never has been discovered. I myself would say that it had merely been detected."
"Pessimist: One who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both."
"Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best."
"Questions are never indiscreet, answers sometimes are."
"Self-denial is the shining sore on the leprous body of Christianity."
"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live."
"Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow."
"She wore far too much rouge last night and not quite enough clothes. That is always a sign of despair in a woman."
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."
"Some of these people need ten years of therapy -ten sentences of mine do not equal ten years of therapy."
"Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result."
"The basis of optimism is sheer terror."
"The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame."
"The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."
"The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read."
"The English country gentleman galloping after a fox - The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable."
"The General was essentially a man of peace, except of course in his domestic affairs."
"The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means."
"The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates."
"The man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world."
"The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it's dead for you."
"The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything."
"The one charm about marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties."
"The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself."
"The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it... I can resist everything but temptation."
"The past is of no importance. The present is of no importance. It is with the future that we have to deal. For the past is what man should not have been. The present is what man ought not to be. The future is what artists are."
"The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything. Except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands."
"The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius."
"The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple."
"The salesman knows nothing of what he is selling save that he is charging a great deal too much for it."
"The security of Society lies in custom and unconscious instinct, and the basis of the stability of Society, as a healthy organism, is the complete absence of any intelligence amongst its members."
"The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible."
"The truth is rarely pure and never simple."
"The typewriting machine, when played with expression, is no more annoying than the piano when played by a sister or near relation."
"The world has grown suspicious of anything that looks like a happily married life."
"The world is divided into two classes, those who believe the incredible, and those who do the improbable."
"There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating - people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing."
"There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."
"There is no sin except stupidity."
"There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written."
"There is no such thing as an omen. Destiny does not send us heralds. She is too wise or too cruel for that."
"There is nothing in the world like the devotion of a married woman. It is a thing no married man knows anything about."
"There is nothing so difficult to marry as a large nose."
"There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."
"These days man knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing."
"This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last."
"Those whom the gods love grow young."
"To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect."
"To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."
"To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance."
"To regret one's own experiences is to arrest one's own development. To deny one's own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one's life. It is no less than a denial of the soul."
"True friends stab you in the front."
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
"What we have to do, what at any rate it is our duty to do, is to revive the old art of Lying."
"When a man has once loved a woman he will do anything for her except continue to love her."
"When a woman marries again it is because she detested her first husband. When a man marries again, it is because he adored his first wife. Women try their luck; men risk theirs."
"When good Americans die they go to Paris."
"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is."
"When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers."
"Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong."
"Who, being loved, is poor?"
"Why was I born with such contemporaries?"
"Woman begins by resisting a man's advances and ends by blocking his retreat."
"Women are made to be loved, not understood."
"Women are never disarmed by compliments. Men always are. That is the difference between the sexes."
"Work is the curse of the drinking classes."
"Yet each man kills the thing he loves, by each let this be heard, some do it with a bitter look, some with a flattering word. The coward does it with a kiss, the brave man with a sword!"