Thursday 13: Oscar Wilde

Today’s Thursday 13 is all about Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London. (source Wikipedia)

  1. Oscar Wilde was married to Constance Lloyd and had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan
  2. In 1878 he went on a lecture tour throughout the United States, London and Canada to teach aesthetic values.
  3. Wilde is often associated with the aesthetic movement called "Art for Art’s Sake", which says that art is self-sufficient and does not need to have a moral, social, or political purpose.
  4. Along with his sparkling prose, Wilde is also known for his flamboyant fashion sense. He often, for example, wore green carnations in his jacket lapel.
  5. He was one of the early "celebrities". In some respects he was famous for being famous. His dress was a target for satire in the cartoons, but Wilde didn’t seem to mind. In fact he learnt the art of self-publicity and seemed to revel in it.
  6. Teleny or The Reverse of the Medal, a gay pornographic novel, has been attributed to Wilde, but was more likely a combined effort by a several of Wilde’s friends, which he may have edited.
  7. The last of Wilde’s plays, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, is considered by many to be the finest modern farce in the English language.
  8. He only wrote one novel, "The picture of Dorian Gray"
  9. In 1895, Oscar Wilde was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ (i.e., homosexual acts) and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment with hard labour. He was sent first to Pentonville and Wandsworth prisons in London, and then to another at Reading, in Berkshire. While there, he wrote his long poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol.
  10. After being released from jail in 1897 he adopted the name Sebastian Melmoth, went to Paris, penniless, and is said to have reunited with his friend and lover of many years, Canadian journalist Robert Baldwin "Robbie" Ross.
  11. Oscar Wilde died shortly before two o’clock in the afternoon at the Hotel d’Alsace, 13 Rue des Beaux-Arts, Paris, on November 30, 1900. The funeral took place at 9 o’clock on Monday, December 2, at St Germain des Pres and afterwards at the cemetery at Bagneux. Later he was moved to Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. His tomb in Pere Lachaise was designed by sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein, at the request of Robert Ross, who also asked for a small compartment to be made for his own ashes. Ross’s ashes were transferred to the tomb in 1950.
  12. On 20th August 1962 a voice manifested in the seance-room of British medium Leslie Flint which claimed to be that of the late Oscar Wilde.
  13. Merlin Holland, Oscar Wilde’s only grandchild is keeping the legacy alive today by studying his grandfather’s life and by publishing books about various aspects of Oscar Wilde. His only great-grand-child, Lucian Holland was born in 1979. 


A very short part from "The Ballad of Reading Gaol":

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!


And 13 quotes:

  • There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
  • I don’t at all like knowing what people say of me behind my back. It makes one far too conceited.
  • It is perfectly monstrous the way people go about, nowadays, saying things against one behind one’s back that are absolutely and entirely true.
  • We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.
  • One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry.
  • Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.
  • All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.
  • True friends stab you in the front.
  • We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
  • They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever.
  • Everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching.
  • Only the shallow know themselves.
  • Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities.

And another interesting link: Documentary about Oscar Wilde in seven parts on you tube

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