Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish author, poet, and playwright who rose to the top of the London theater world near the end of the 19th century. His works remain enormously popular to this day. His novel, The Picture of Dorian Grey (1890), has inspired numerous screen adaptations, and Wilde is still one of the most quoted (and misquoted) authors in the Anglosphere.

At Trinity College and later Oxford, Wilde showed a talent for classicism and became involved in the philosophy of aestheticism. After university, he moved to London and became a well-known figure in fashionable circles. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress, and his charms as a conversationalist, Wilde became a larger-than-life personality.

The opportunity to weave aesthetic styles in larger social themes drew Wilde to write drama. He penned Salome (1891), a piece that proved too scandalous to put on. Unperturbed, Wilde produced four successful society comedies immediately thereafter, which made him one of the most prominent playwrights of late-Victorian London. The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), Lady Windemere's Fan (1892), An Ideal Husband (1895), and A Woman of No Importance (1893) continue to be performed and adapted to this day.

In 1884, Oscar Wilde married the writer Constance Lloyd. They spent a fortune buying, renovating, and decorating their home together, had two sons, and seemed to have had a happy marriage for a time. Early on, Wilde spoke often of his love for Constance. Scholars speculate that she suffered from gynecological problems after the birth of their second child, and that this ended their sex life.

At the height of his fame, Wilde was accused by the Marquess of Queensberry of being a “sodomite” for his love affair with the Marquess’s son, Lord Alfred Douglas. Wilde had the Marquess prosecuted for criminal libel. The trial unearthed evidence of Wilde’s same-sex behaviors that caused him to drop his charges and led to his own arrest, trial, and conviction for "gross indecency with men".

After his conviction, Constance changed her last name (and the name of their sons) and made Wilde give up his parental rights. She moved with the boys to Switzerland and died in 1898.

On May 19, 1897, Wilde was released from prison and immediately sailed for France, never to return to the UK. After his experience behind bars, Wilde wrote and advocated for prison reform. He was briefly reunited with Lord Alfred Douglas, but Douglas's family and Constance threatened to cut them both off financially if they did not separate. Wilde died in France in 1900.

Oscar and Lord Alfred Douglass sitting together at a bench while Oscar has a cigarette

His novels and plays continue not only to be read and adapted, but to inspire characters in works such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018), and Penny Dreadful (2014).