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Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)

Wilde, Oscar

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland on October 16, 1854. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and Magdalen College, Oxford. He was considered a brilliant student. In 1878, his poem Ravenna won the Newdigate Prize. Shortly after leaving university his first volume of poetry was published. He moved to London in 1879.

Wilde married Constance Lloyd, the daughter of a wealthy Dublin barrister, in 1884 and the couple had two sons. Wilde wrote fairy stories for his boys. These were later published as The Happy Prince and Other Tales.

After being married for 11 years, Wilde had left his wife and began having a homosexual affair with Alfred Douglas. In May 1895, Wilde was prosecuted and imprisoned for homosexuality under the terms of the Criminal Law Amendment Act. He served two years in Old Bailey in London. Regrettable, his mother died while he was still in jail

In 1897, after being released from Reading Prison, Wilde moved to France. A year later he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol, a poem inspired by his prison experience. Wilde's time in prison badly damaged his health and he died on November 30, 1900, in Paris, France, three years after leaving prison. He is buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, in a tomb designed by Epstein.

Famous quotations by Oscar Wilde:

  • I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.

  • The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.

  • Those whom the gods love grow young.

  • In America the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.

  • Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.

  • The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.

  • There is no such thing as an omen. Destiny does not send us heralds. She is too wise or too cruel for that.

  • Children have a natural antipathy to books--handicraft should be the basis of education. Boys and girls should be taught to use their hands to make something, and they would be less apt to destroy and be mischievous.

  • Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

  • A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction.

  • The past is of no importance. The present is of no importance. It is with the future that we have to deal. For the past is what man should not have been. The present is what man ought not to be. The future is what artists are.

  • There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

  • There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating--people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing.

  • If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.

  • The liar at any rate recognizes that recreation, not instruction, is the aim of conversation, and is a far more civilised being than the blockhead who loudly expresses his disbelief in a story which is told simply for the amusement of the company.

  • Men marry because they are tired; women because they are curious. Both are disappointed.

  • When a woman marries again it is because she detested her first husband. When a man marries again, it is because he adored his first wife. Women try their luck; men risk theirs.

  • Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.

  • Men always want to be a woman's first love. That is their clumsy vanity. We women have a more subtle instinct about things. What (women) like is to be a man's last romance.

  • It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.

  • Lord Illingworth: All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. Mrs. Allonby: No man does. That is his.

  • The basis of optimism is sheer terror.

  • One's past is what one is. It is the only way by which people should be judged.

  • When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers.

  • He must have a truly romantic nature, for he weeps when there is nothing at all to weep about.

  • How strange a thing this is! The Priest telleth me that the Soul is worth all the gold in the world, and the merchants say that it is not worth a clipped piece of silver.

  • The truth is rarely pure and never simple.

  • Moderation is a fatal thing... Nothing succeeds like excess.

  • Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.

  • To regret one's own experiences is to arrest one's own development. To deny one's own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one's life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.

  • I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.

  • It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realise our perfection.

  • Most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.

  • I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works.

  • It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.

  • He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time.

  • Suggested sites for Oscar Wilde:

    Encyclopedia article about Oscar Wilde
    Texts by Wilde
    The Ballad of Reading Gaol
    A poem written during Wilde's sting in prison following charges of homosexuality.
    A Florentine Tragedy
    Simone, a merchant, returns from a business trip to find his wife in a compromising situation with Prince Bardi. After some time, Simone challenges the Prince to a duel, ultimately killing him. The situation brings new understanding to the husband and wife.
    The Happy Prince and Other Tales
    A collection of short stories, including "The Remarkable Rocket," "The Selfish Giant," "The Devoted Friend," "The Nightingale and the Rose," "The Young King," and "The Star Child."
    An Ideal Husband
    A rising politician with a secret tries to prevent exposure of his past by showing the hypocritical standards we hold our leaders to.
    Lady Windermere's Fan
    Lady Windermere receives an ornate fan as a birthday present from her husband. She hears gossip that her husband is cheating on her, and she begins to have affair, herself. Mrs. Erlynne takes the fall after Lady Windermere's fan is found at the house of Lord Darlington.
    The Picture Of Dorian Gray
    Moral tale of Dorian, a beautiful youth who gets his portrait painted, then proceeds to become cruel and watches in horror as his painting feels the effects, but he stays youthful.
    The Soul of Man under Socialism
    Essay.
    A Woman of No Importance
    A social play about the revelations that take place during a party at the country home of Lady Hunstanton. Gerald Arbuthnot has been appointed as the secretary of Lord Illingworth, a man notorious for his skills as seducer. While at the party, his female conquests must act as though nothing had happened between themselves and Lord Illingworth, including Mrs. Arbuthnot, who must decide whether or not to make her secret known.

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