Monday, October 16, 2017

Born Today In 1854: Flamboyant Irish Writer Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was born today, October 16, in 1854. He was a flamboyant and prolific Irish writer who wrote plays, fiction, essays, and poetry. He became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. He is best remembered for the novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the play, The Importance of Being Earnest.

At the height of his fame and success, while The Importance of Being Earnest was still being performed in London, Wilde had the Marquess of Queensberry prosecuted for criminal libel. The Marquess was the father of Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. The libel trial unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and trial for gross indecency with men. After two more trials he was convicted and sentenced to 2 years' hard labor, the maximum penalty, and was jailed from 1895 to 1897. He died destitute in Paris at the age of 46 in 1900.

In 2017, with the coming into force of the "Policing and Crime Act," Wilde was among an estimated 50,000 men who were pardoned for his offense, as it was no longer a crime in the United Kingdom.

Wilde's highly regarded biography by Richard Ellman, Oscar Wilde, won the Pulitzer Prize. Ellman researched the book for more than 20 years. The blurb for the book states:
Ellman captures the wit, creativity, and charm of the psychologically and sexually complicated writer, as well as the darker aspects of his personality and life. 
Wilde is well-known for his many witty quotations.  Some of Wilde's best quotes include:
"Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead."
"The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast." 
"If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life."
"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination."
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."
"I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability."
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."

1 comment:

Raybeard said...

I think that history can hardly show a more telling and tragic fall - and what a fall! - from celebrity and grace.