Glossary entry for
Wilde, Oscar

The following is extracted from the "Wild Wilde Web":

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854-1900) was born on 16 October 1854 in Dublin. He would later assert that a name which is destined to be in everyone's mouth must not be too long. All the world would come to know him simply as Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Wilde was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and later at Oxford--where he discovered the dangerous and delightful distinction of being different from others. In 1881 his collected poems were published. In 1882, short of money, Mr. Wilde accepted an invitation to embark on a lecture tour of America. The tour was an unmitigated smash and Mr. Wilde returned to London in triumph and richer by several thousand pounds.

Mr. Wilde married Constance Lloyd, the daughter of an Irish barrister in 1884. They had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan. In 1891 a guest of the Wilde's brought a young man to tea. Alfred Douglas--Bosie--was the foppish, poet son of the Marquess of Queensberry. They were immediately attracted to each other. Bosie was taken with the brilliance of Mr. Wilde's conversation and wit, and Mr. Wilde was entranced by young Queensberry's good looks and title.

Outraged by his son's association with Mr. Wilde, the Marquess of Queensberry left a visiting card at Wilde's stylish London club, the Albemarle, upon which he had written, To Oscar Wilde posing as a somdomite--his spelling. Encouraged by Bosie whose hatred for his own father obscured his affection for his friend, Mr. Wilde pressed suit for criminal libel. The case was lost and Wilde charged with homosexual offences. The jury failed to reach a decision at the first trial, but at a second trial Mr. Wilde was found guilty and sentenced to two years in Reading Gaol (pronounced redd-ing jail). He was forced to labor in prison and his meals consisted mainly of gruel, suet, water and greasy cocoa. While in prison Mr. Wilde was declared bankrupt; his house and possessions were sold to pay his debts.

Mr. Wilde left prison on 19 May 1897, and left England for France. He assumed the name Sebastian, after the well-known Christian martyr slain in a hail of arrows, and died a broken man on 30 November 1900. In 1912 a monument to Oscar Wilde, in the mayan style, was errected at his gravesite at Pere LaChaise Cemetary in Paris by an anonymous woman.

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