Thursday, April 26, 2012

W = Wilde Thing - A to Z Challenge

Wilde, Oscar
A man before his time. . .

Oscar Wilde, by Napoleon Sarony (Wikipedia, PD-Art)

Wilde, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. Today, he is remembered for his epigrams, plays and the circumstances of his imprisonment, followed by his early death.  His story is a good illustration of the society kiss of death.  One minute you're the darling, step out of line, and you're old news.

After university, Wilde moved to London into fashionable cultural and social circles.  He published a book of poems, lectured in the United States and Canada and then returned to London where he worked as a journalist.  Wilde became one of the most well-known personalities of his day. 

In mid-1887, Wilde was the editor of The Lady's World magazine, his name prominently appearing on the cover. He renamed it The Woman's World and raised its tone, adding serious articles on parenting, culture, and politics, keeping discussions of fashion and arts. Two pieces of fiction were usually included, one to be read to children, the other for the ladies themselves.

At the turn of the 1890s, he wrote of decadence, duplicity, and beauty in his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). He wrote Salome (1891) in French in Paris but, it was refused a licence.  Wilde instead then produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London.

At the height of his fame and success, Wilde became embroiled in a social scandal related to his sexual preferences and ended up serving time in prison at hard labour.  Upon his release he left Ireland, never to return there or to Britain again. He lived the rest of his life in France, and there he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life.

Oscar Wilde's Monument, before the cleaning, by DG Hudson

Oscar's health declined sharply until he collapsed during chapel from illness and hunger.  His right ear drum was ruptured in the fall, an injury that would contribute to his death. He spent two months in the infirmary.

Wilde's final address was at the dingy Hôtel d'Alsace (L'Hôtel) in Paris.  He died of cerebral meningitis on 30 November 1900, destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six.  Wilde's physicians, Dr. Paul Cleiss and A'Court Tucker, reported that the condition stemmed from an old suppuration of the right ear.

Oscar Wilde's Monument Side and front, before cleanup, by DG Hudson

In 1909, his remains were disinterred to Père Lachaise Cemetery inside the city.  His tomb was designed by Sir Jacob Epstein.  Until recently, Oscar's monument was covered with kisses, comments, signatures, and more as high as humans hands could reach.  The tomb was cleaned and partially covered by protective clear material.  See the video below for the details.

'No More Wilde Kisses' Huffington Post Article


Do you like Oscar Wilde's writing? His witty quotes?  Please share any comments about his works that you've read.  Have you read or seen Dorian Gray?

DG's Theme:  Paris, Etc. (Art, Film, Places, and People

Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Oscar Wilde's Monument  Bio - Oscar Wilde  Oscar Wilde, general info Historic figures