Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Irish dramatist, poet, and author wrote the darkly sardonic Faustian themed The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891);
In the centre of the room, clamped to an upright easel, stood the full-length portrait of a young man of extraordinary personal beauty, and in front of it, some little distance away, was sitting the artist himself, Basil Hallward, .... "I hate them for it,"cried Hallward. "An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them. We live in an age when men treat art as if it were meant to be a form of autobiography. We have lost the abstract sense of beauty. Some day I will show the world what it is; and for that reason the world shall never see my portrait of Dorian Gray." Read more here
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest "celebrities" of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being Earnest. As the result of a widely covered series of trials, Wilde suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years' hard labour after being convicted of homosexual relationships, described as "gross indecency" with other men. After Wilde was released from prison he set sail for Dieppe by the night ferry, never to return to Ireland or Britain.
Statue of Oscar Wilde in Dublin's Merrion Square (Archbishop Ryan Park)Oscar Wilde was born at 21 Westland Row, Dublin. He was the second son of Sir William Wilde and his wife Jane Francesca Wilde. Jane Wilde, under the pseudonym "Speranza" (Italian word for 'hope'), wrote poetry for the revolutionary Young Irelanders in 1848 and was a life-long Irish nationalist. William Wilde was Ireland's leading oto-ophthalmologic (ear and eye) surgeon and was knighted in 1864 for his services to medicine. He also wrote books about archaeology and folklore. A renowned philanthropist, his dispensary for the care of the city's poor at the rear of Trinity College, Dublin, was the forerunner of the Dublin Eye and Ear Hospital, now located at Adelaide Road.
In 1855, the family moved to 1 Merrion Square, where Wilde's sister, Isola, was born the following year. Lady Wilde held a regular Saturday afternoon salon with guests that included Sheridan le Fanu, Charles Lever, George Petrie, Isaac Butt and Samuel Ferguson.
Oscar Wilde was educated at home until he was nine. He then attended Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, spending the summer months with his family in rural Waterford, Wexford and at his father's family home in Mayo. There Wilde played with the older George Moore.
Leaving Portora, Wilde studied classics at Trinity College, Dublin, from 1871 to 1874, sharing rooms with his older brother Willie Wilde. His tutor, John Pentland Mahaffy, the leading Greek scholar at Trinity, interested him in Greek literature. Wilde was an outstanding student and won the Berkeley Gold Medal, the highest award available to classics students at Trinity. He was awarded a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied from 1874 to 1878 and became a part of the Aesthetic movement; one of its tenets was to make an art of life.
Wilde had a disappointing relationship with the prestigious Oxford Union. On matriculating in 1874, he had applied to join the Union, but failed to be elected. Nevertheless, when the Union's librarian requested a presentation copy of Poems (1881), Wilde complied. After a debate called by Oliver Elton, the book was condemned for alleged plagiarism and returned to Wilde.
While at Magdalen, Wilde won the 1878 Newdigate Prize for his poem Ravenna, which he read at Encaenia; he failed to win the Chancellor's English Essay Prize with an essay that would be published posthumously as The Rise of Historical Criticism (1909). In November 1878, he graduated with a double first in classical moderations and Literae Humaniores, or "Greats".
At Oxford University, Wilde petitioned a Masonic Lodge and was later raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason, retaining his membership in the Craft until his death.
Wilde was greatly disliked by some of his fellow students, who threw his china at him.
1881 caricature in Punch:
Keller cartoon from the Wasp of San Francisco depicting Wilde on the occasion of his visit there in 1882While at Magdalen College, Wilde became particularly well known for his role in the aesthetic and decadent movements. He began wearing his hair long and openly scorning so-called "manly" sports, and began decorating his rooms with peacock feathers, lilies, sunflowers, blue china and other objets d'art.
Legends persist that his behaviour cost him a dunking in the River Cherwell in addition to having his rooms (which still survive as student accommodation at his old college) vandalized, but the cult spread among certain segments of society to such an extent that languishing attitudes, "too-too" costumes and aestheticism generally became a recognised pose. Publications such as the Springfield Republican commented on Wilde's behaviour during his visit to Boston to lecture on aestheticism, suggesting that Wilde's conduct was more of a bid for notoriety rather than a devotion to beauty and the aesthetic. Wilde's mode of dress also came under attack by critics such as Higginson, who wrote in his paper Unmanly Manhood, of his general concern that Wilde's effeminacy would influence the behaviour of men and women, arguing that his poetry "eclipses masculine ideals [..that..] under such influence men would become effeminate dandies". He also scrutinised the links between Oscar Wilde's writing, personal image and homosexuality, calling his work and way of life "immoral".