Oscar Wilde

Photo by Napoleon Sarony

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Ireland on the 16 of October 1854. He was a writer, poet, and a prominent aesthete. An aesthete is someone who believes in beauty, instead of morals, i.e. that person believes in sensual pleasure, and extravagant beauty of things. If it is beautiful or feels good, then it must be a good thing. Wilde was taught at home until the age of nine. While he was at home, he became fluent in French and German. He then went to Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, Fermanagh. He left that school with royal scholarships and went to Trinity College, Dublin. Trinity College made a teaching center in Oscar Wilde's birth house, a building not far away from the actual campus. The center teaches Irish writing and Creative Writing.
Wilde graduated from Trinity with a Berkeley Gold Medal, the highest academic award at Trinity. He then attended Magdalen College in Oxford. It was here that Oscar first became an aesthete. He wore flamboyant clothes, and his house was ful of art objects, such as blue china, peacock feathers, lillies sunflowers, etc. After graduation, he returned to Ireland and found his childhood sweetheart again. She was, however, engaged, and in 1878 she married Bram Stoker (who later wrote Dracula). Wilde wrote her a letter explaining his grief, although he would remember 'the two sweet years – the sweetest years of all my youth' they had lived together. He also wrote that he would be returning to London for good, which he did, only coming back to Ireland for two brief visits.
During his schooling years, Wilde had written a number of poems and lyrics which he had sent out to numerous magazines, and in 1881, a book collecting all his work was published. It was met with some success, and he spent the next few years giving lectures on aesthete in America, London and Paris using the income received from his various works.

Constance Lloyd

In 1884, while Oscar was presenting in Dublin, he met with a girl he had already been previously with and proposed. Constance Lloyd was married to Wilde on the 29 of May 1884 in London. They had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan. He became an editor for a women's magazine, but he dropped out to form a new magazine because of his lack of interest in the women's magazine. His article didn't survive long.
In 1890, Wilde published the first version of The Picture of Dorian Gray. He later wrote two plays (Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance), which had more success than Dorian Gray.
Oscar Wilde started a relationship with Alfred Douglas. It was an intense affair, and they consorted together regularly. Wilde was earning a £100 a week from his plays (he used to earn £6 a week with his magazine), and he lavished Douglas with everything he wanted. Their relationship was not characterised by fidelity, and Douglas soon introduced Wilde to the underground gay prostitution. Douglas encouraged Wilde to increase his casual sexual affairs, and Oscar met a number of male prostitutes from 1892 onwards. He would offer them gifts, eat dinner privately with them, and take them to a hotel room. He kept Douglas and a few others a part of his aesthete life, but the prostitutes were uneducated and were for the time being only. Wilde made his public life and private life very separate.

Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas

Alfred Douglas' father was named the Marquess of Queensbury, and he was known to be a brutal man. His second son died in an unexplained shooting accident, and the Marquess believed it to be related to his son's homosexuality. He blamed 'older' homosexuals of corrupting him, and quickly accused his other son, Alfred Douglas, and Oscar Wilde of the murder of his son. Wilde and Queensbury had many altercations, with Queensbury repeatedly threatening Wilde. After being forced by Alfred, and despite his friends' opinions, he pressed charges on the Marquess. Queensbury accused Wilde of sodomy, as proving that Wilde had done a felony would release him. Details of Wilde's private life with Douglas and others began appearing in newspapers, and the masses of witnesses and evidence against Oscar were piling up. He dropped the charges, and since Queensbury's accusations were found to be real, he was declared innocent, and Wilde was charged all the expenses Queensbury had needed for the case. Wilde was left bankrupt.
He was then charged with 'gross indecency', although he pleaded not guilty. He was sentenced to two years of hard labour, and while in prison, his status offered him no special privileges, and he suffered health problems. He was released on the 19 May 1897, and spent the last three years of his life in a moneyless exile.
Oscar Wilde died of cerebral meningitis on 30 November 1900.
It is unknown exactly when his wife found out, but by the time of the trial, she definitely knew about her husbands private life. She changed her and her sons name to Holland, and only visited Wilde in prison to tell him of his mother's death in person. When Wilde was released, she refused to send him money, and made him give up his parental rights. She fell down the stairs and had a sort of paralysis. She died after the spinal cord surgery on April 7, 1898.

Reference: http://www.online-literature.com/wilde/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Wilde

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