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Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was an award-winning Irish writer/poet/playwright of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Salome, The Canterville Ghost, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, and Lady Windermere's Fan.

He was also a journalist with Woman's World (1887-89) and the Pall Mall Gazette (1885-87). Wilde was found guilty and sentenced, in May 1895, to two years at hard labor after being convicted in a sensational trial of "gross indecency" for committing homosexual acts (then, still illegal in England).

Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Biographical fast facts

Full or original name at birth: Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde

Date, time and place of birth: October 16, 1854, at 2:38 a.m., at 21 Westland Row, Dublin, Ireland *

Date, time, place and cause of death: November 30, 1900, at 1:50 p.m.**, Hotel d'Alsace, Paris, France (Meningitis/Infection)

Spouse: Constance Mary Lloyd (m. May 29, 1884 - April 7, 1898) (her death)
Wedding took place at St. James Church, London, England.

Sons: Cyril (b. June 5, 1885 - d. May 9, 1915)
Vyvyan Holland (b. November 5, 1886 - d. October 10, 1967)

Father: Sir William Robert Wills Wilde (a surgeon/writer) (b. March 1815 - d. April 19, 1876)
Mother: Jane Francesca Wilde (a poet/novelist) (b. December 27th, 1821 - d. February 3, 1896)

Burial site: Initially Oscar Wilde was buried at Bagneux Cemetery near Paris. In 1909, his remains were moved to Le Pere Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris.

Error corrections or clarifications

* Early editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica and the 1994 edition of The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider, erroneously report "October 15" as his date of birth.

** His death certificate rounded off his time of death to "2:00 p.m." but 1:50 p.m. was his actual departure time.

NOTE: Some sources mistakenly report that Wilde divorced his wife Constance in 1893. Constance did file for divorce, but the filing was ultimately withdrawn.


The most in-depth of more than three dozen sources consulted in preparing this profile, was the 1988 biography, Oscar Wilde, by Richard Ellmann.

Selected Works of Oscar Wilde

Theocritus - A Villanelle

by Oscar Wilde

O singer of Persephone!
In the dim meadows desolate
Dost thou remember Sicily?

Still through the ivy flits the bee
Where Amaryllis lies in state;
O Singer of Persephone!

Simaetha calls on Hecate
And hears the wild dogs at the gate;
Dost thou remember Sicily?

Still by the light and laughing sea
Poor Polypheme bemoans his fate;
O Singer of Persephone!

And still in boyish rivalry
Young Daphnis challenges his mate;
Dost thou remember Sicily?

Slim Lacon keeps a goat for thee,
For thee the jocund shepherds wait;
O Singer of Persephone!
Dost thou remember Sicily?

"Roses And Rue" by Oscar Wilde
Roses And Rue

(To L. L.)

by Oscar Wilde

Could we dig up this long-buried treasure,
Were it worth the pleasure,
We never could learn love's song,
We are parted too long.

Could the passionate past that is fled
Call back its dead,
Could we live it all over again,
Were it worth the pain!

I remember we used to meet
By an ivied seat,
And you warbled each pretty word
With the air of a bird;

And your voice had a quaver in it,
Just like a linnet,
And shook, as the blackbird's throat
With its last big note;

And your eyes, they were green and grey
Like an April day,
But lit into amethyst
When I stooped and kissed;

And your mouth, it would never smile
For a long, long while,
Then it rippled all over with laughter
Five minutes after.

You were always afraid of a shower,
Just like a flower:
I remember you started and ran
When the rain began.

I remember I never could catch you,
For no one could match you,
You had wonderful, luminous, fleet,
Little wings to your feet.

I remember your hair - did I tie it?
For it always ran riot -
Like a tangled sunbeam of gold:
These things are old.

I remember so well the room,
And the lilac bloom
That beat at the dripping pane
In the warm June rain;

And the colour of your gown,
It was amber-brown,
And two yellow satin bows
From your shoulders rose.

And the handkerchief of French lace
Which you held to your face -
Had a small tear left a stain?
Or was it the rain?

On your hand as it waved adieu
There were veins of blue;
In your voice as it said good-bye
Was a petulant cry,

'You have only wasted your life.'
(Ah, that was the knife!)
When I rushed through the garden gate
It was all too late.

Could we live it over again,
Were it worth the pain,
Could the passionate past that is fled
Call back its dead!

Well, if my heart must break,
Dear love, for your sake,
It will break in music, I know,
Poets' hearts break so.

But strange that I was not told
That the brain can hold
In a tiny ivory cell
God's heaven and hell.

Sonnet On Hearing The Dies Irae Sung In The Sistine Chapel
by Oscar Wilde

Nay, Lord, not thus! white lilies in the spring,
Sad olive-groves, or silver-breasted dove,
Teach me more clearly of Thy life and love
Than terrors of red flame and thundering.
The hillside vines dear memories of Thee bring:
A bird at evening flying to its nest
Tells me of One who had no place of rest:
I think it is of Thee the sparrows sing.
Come rather on some autumn afternoon,
When red and brown are burnished on the leaves,
And the fields echo to the gleaner's song,
Come when the splendid fulness of the moon
Looks down upon the rows of golden sheaves,
And reap Thy harvest: we have waited long.

"Libertatis Sacra Fames" by Oscar Wilde
Libertatis Sacra Fames

by Oscar Wilde

Albeit nurtured in democracy,
And liking best that state republican
Where every man is Kinglike and no man
Is crowned above his fellows, yet I see,
Spite of this modern fret for Liberty,
Better the rule of One, whom all obey,
Than to let clamorous demagogues betray
Our freedom with the kiss of anarchy.
Wherefore I love them not whose hands profane
Plant the red flag upon the piled-up street
For no right cause, beneath whose ignorant reign
Arts, Culture, Reverence, Honour, all things fade,
Save Treason and the dagger of her trade,
Or Murder with his silent bloody feet.

Visit these other works by Oscar Wilde

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