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.