Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland on October 16, 1854 and would go on to become one of the most popular playwrights of the 1890’s. His eccentric personality also transformed him into a celebrity, whose daily life proved just as interesting to the public as the plays he wrote. Wilde firmly believed in the importance of being true to yourself, and he was not afraid to flout social conventions and stir up controversy. In 1895 Wilde’s open homosexuality proved too much for the Victorian public, and he was sentenced to two years of hard labor for “gross indecency.” The sentence destroyed his reputation and health, but the beautifully tragic letters written during his imprisonment proved to the public the injustice of his sentence, and transformed him into an important figure for gay rights. Wilde is at once hilariously witty, and tragically brave and he is one of my all time favorite writers. Celebrate his birthday by checking out some of his most well known and beloved works and learning more about his extraordinary life.
This is the most comprehensive biography of Oscar Wilde that I have read so far. Richard Ellmann’s writing is straightforward and compelling, making Wilde’s life read more like a novel than real life. It was often said of Wilde that his real life and his art were sometimes interchangeable, and Ellmann conveys the eerie similarities perfectly.
Wilde’s plays are known for their quick wit and banter and their ironic take on social conventions and expectations. This collection includes his most popular comedies, Lady Winderpere’s Fan, An Ideal Husband, and The Importance of Being Earnest.
Wilde’s fairy tales are beautiful and haunting. Akin to the classic style of the Grimm fairy tales, Wilde conveys all of his stories with heartbreaking lessons and tragic observations of human society.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my all-time favorite novels. It is a dark tale depicting the cost of human vanity and explores both the dangers of repressed desires and the consequences of desires fulfilled.
If you are intrigued by Wilde’s life and works, this is the collection to get. All of Wilde’s plays, essays, poems, and stories are compiled together, including De Profundis, the tragic letters written by Wilde during his imprisonment in Reading Gaol.