Oscar Wilde

Standard Name: Wilde, Oscar
Birth Name: Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde
OW 's significance as poet, playwright, and writer of prose fiction, remained in eclipse for many years after his notorious trial and imprisonment in Reading Gaol , events whose chilling impact on poetry and prose in England was not reversed until the modernists returned to the struggle for unfettered aesthetic expression. A leading proponent of art for art's sake in England, OW was a follower of Walter Pater , from whose work he borrows in lavish quantity, and, like Pater, he was much influenced by the French l'art pour l'art poets, notably Charles Baudelaire and Théophile Gautier .
Clements, Patricia. Baudelaire and the English Tradition. Princeton University Press.
More recently, his brilliant aesthetic essays have drawn serious attention as the basis for many critical propositions . . . which we like to attribute to more ponderous names.
Ellmann, Richard, editor. The Critic as Artist: Critical Writings of Oscar Wilde. Random House.
His notoriety as a casualty of oppressive laws against the practice of homosexuality is also the subject of a good deal of recent critical comment.


Connections Sort descending Author name Excerpt
Anthologization Jane Francesca, Lady Wilde
Some of her essays and stories were also collected this year in volume 14 of The Writings of Oscar Wilde.
Thesing, William B., editor. Dictionary of Literary Biography 199. Gale Research.
199: 298
Characters Patricia Highsmith
In Ripley Under Water, 1991, on the other hand, Tom kills no-one directly, since a grotesque fatal accident removes the objects of his ire. But he and the reader are given recurring reminders of...
Cultural formation Evelyn Sharp
ES was an Englishwoman (and asserted that identity in the title of her autobiography) whose mother laid claim to Welsh and to distant Italian forebears. She described her family as urban middle-class, with artistic, musical...
Cultural formation Anne Carson
As a teenager, AC fancied herself a reborn Oscar Wilde.
Wachtel, Eleanor. “An Interview With Anne Carson”. Brick: A Literary Journal, No. 89, pp. 29-53.
She was drawn to Wilde's aesthetic sensibility and sense of irony. She shared this affectation with some of her highschool friends. They would...
Cultural formation Dinah Mulock Craik
DMC identified strongly as a working woman across established class boundaries. She wrote towards the end of her life to Oscar Wilde , suggesting that he should alter the name of the monthly magazine he...
Cultural formation Kate Marsden
Aspects of her identity shifted over time. KM was born into an English, professional, presumably white family of the upper-middle class, who lost their financial security because of her father's early death. Protestant for much...
death Jane Francesca, Lady Wilde
JFLW , commonly known under her pen-name Speranza, died of complications from bronchitis while her son Oscar was serving his prison sentence.
Glendinning, Victoria. “Speranza: A Leaning Tower of Courage”. Genius in the Drawing-Room, edited by Peter Quennell, Weidenfield and Nicolson, pp. 101-16.
Dedications Jane Francesca, Lady Wilde
The first edition's dedication to her sons Willie and Oscar says: I taught them, no doubt, / That country's a thing one should die for at need.
Ellmann, Richard. Oscar Wilde. Knopf.
Later editions published as Poems by Speranza...
Education Anne Carson
When she was in highschool AC 's brother, four years older, liked her to do his homework for him.
Carson, Anne. Nox. New Directions.
Apart from her fascination with Wilde , AC fell in love while at Port Hope High School
Education Diana Athill
DA was taught at home by governesses (seven successively before she was sent to school), who followed a correspondence course designed for home schooling which was known as Parents Educational National Union . A French...
Education U. A. Fanthorpe
She later called her boarding school (where she was sent by her parents because of the heavy wartime bombing in their home area) inadequate,
Blain, Virginia et al., editors. The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present. Yale University Press; Batsford.
and likened its staff to Oscar Wilde 's Lady Bracknell...
Family and Intimate relationships Florence Dixie
Florence's eldest brother, Lord John , later became the notorious ninth Marquess of Queensberry, father of Lord Alfred Douglas . It was he who destroyed Oscar Wilde by bringing the court case against him.
Family and Intimate relationships Natalie Clifford Barney
While she never seriously entertained the proposals of most of her suitors, she seems to have considered at least one as a possible candidate for husband: Lord Alfred Douglas , who is notorious as the...
Family and Intimate relationships Violet Hunt
VH met Oscar Wilde for the first time.
Belford, Barbara. Violet. Simon and Schuster.
Family and Intimate relationships Natalie Clifford Barney
This relationship is the focus of Diane Souhami's Wild Girls (2004). Barney assiduously promoted her partner's work for forty years, ultimately finding it an archival home and ensuring the publication of a well-illustrated account of...


Around 1878: The Albemarle Club was formed with the plan...

Building item

Around 1878

The Albemarle Club was formed with the plan of admitting equal numbers of men and women.

1881: Lady Harberton founded the Rational Dress...

Building item


Lady Harberton founded the Rational Dress Society which proposed dress reform for women, denounced tight-lacing and high heels, and advocated divided skirts.

By 24 December 1881: Lillie Langtry became the first English society...

Building item

By 24 December 1881

Lillie Langtry became the first English society woman to appear professionally on the stage when she played Kate Hardcastle in Goldsmith 's She Stoops to Conquer at the Haymarket Theatre , London.

1883: L. R. S. Tomalin, an early disciple of Gustave...

Building item


L. R. S. Tomalin , an early disciple of Gustave Jaeger 's woollen movement, set up the Jaeger Company in Fore Street, London, to sell Dr Jaeger's Sanitary Woollen Clothing..

1885: Breaking with established department store...

Building item


Breaking with established department store practice, Harrods began to offer credit to select customers.

4 March 1885: In Marius the Epicurean, Walter Pater established...

Writing climate item

4 March 1885

In Marius the Epicurean, Walter Pater established his view that the city was the modern topic for writers. The novel is set in Marcus Aurelius 's Rome.

November 1886: The monthly magazine Lady's World: A Magazine...

Writing climate item

November 1886

The monthly magazineLady's World: A Magazine of Fashion and Society began publication.

1893: An anonymous imprint of the homoerotic novel...

Writing climate item


An anonymous imprint of the homoeroticnovelTeleny, in which Oscar Wilde likely had a hand, was published in London by Leonard Smithers .

April 1894: The aesthetic quarterly the Yellow Book began...

Writing climate item

April 1894

The aesthetic quarterly the Yellow Book began publication.

After 25 May 1895: Following the conviction of Oscar Wilde,...

Writing climate item

After 25 May 1895

Following the conviction of Oscar Wilde , Edward Carpenter 's publisher broke his contract to publish Love's Coming of Age, after discovering that Carpenter had privately printed a pamphlet entitled Homogenic Love.

1903: Woman's World began publication in Londo...

Building item


Woman's World began publication in London.

1907: The London County Council banned stage tableaus...

Building item


The London County Council banned stage tableaus or living pictures (erotic in content), and in their place the Palace Theatre engaged Maud Allan as a solo dancer.

1909: The Guild of St Matthew (set up by Stewart...

Building item


The Guild of St Matthew (set up by Stewart Headlam in 1877 to promote Christian socialism) was dissolved.

By 27 February 1911: The secretary of the Actresses' Franchise...

Building item

By 27 February 1911

The secretary of the Actresses' Franchise League organised a feminist production of Wilde 's Salome (reviewed on this date).

April 1918: An article in Noel Pemberton Billing's weekly...

Building item

April 1918

An article in Noel Pemberton Billing 's weekly Vigilante alleged that the Germans had identified 47,000 Britons who could be blackmailed into treason because of their deviant sexuality.


Wilde, Oscar. Collected Works. Editor Ross, Robert, Musson, 1909.
Wilde, Oscar. Poems; with The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Methuen, 1909.
Leverson, Ada, and Oscar Wilde. “Reminiscences of the Author”. Letters to the Sphinx from Oscar Wilde, Duckworth, 1930, pp. 19-49.
Wilde, Oscar. The Artist As Critic. Editor Ellmann, Richard, Vintage Books.
Sharp, Elizabeth A. “The Author of ’John Halifax, Gentleman’”. The Woman’s World, edited by Oscar Wilde, Vol.
, pp. 111-14.
Wilde, Oscar. The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Leonard Smithers, 1898.
Wilde, Oscar. The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. Vol. 4, Criticism: Historical Criticism, Intentions, The Soul of Man. Editor Guy, Josephine M., Oxford University Press, 2007.
Wilde, Oscar. The Letters of Oscar Wilde. Editor Hart-Davis, Rupert, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1962.