Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish author, poet, and playwright. He became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s, and his plays remain hugely popular to this day; his novel The Picture of Dorian Grey has inspired numerous movies and tv shows; and he remains one one of the most quotable authors of the English language.
At university, Wilde proved himself to be an outstanding classicist, first at Dublin, then at Oxford. He became known for his involvement in the rising philosophy of aestheticism. After university, Wilde moved to London and became a well-known figure fashionable cultural and social circles.
Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress, and glittering conversational skills, Wilde became one of the best-known personalities of his day. At the turn of the 1890s, he refined his ideas about the supremacy of art in a series of dialogues and essays.
The opportunity to construct aesthetic details precisely, and combine them with larger social themes drew Wilde to write drama. He penned Salome (1891), but it was considered too scandalous to put on in England. Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful 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 Constance Lloyd. They were both writers with very strong opinions about aesthetics and design. They spent a fortune buying, renovating, and decorating their home together. They had two sons together and seemed to have had a happy marriage for a time. Early in their marriage, he spoke about how much he loved Constance. It's speculated that she suffered from gynecological problems after the birth of their second child that ended their sex life.
At the height of his fame and success, Wilde had the Marquess of Queensberry prosecuted for criminal libel. The Marquess was the father of Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, and had accused Wilde of being "a sodomite". The libel trial unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest, trial, and conviction for "gross indecency with men".
After his conviction, Constance 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, Wilde wrote and advocated for prison reform. He was briefly reunited with Lord Alfred Douglas, but Douglas' family and Constance threatened to cut them both off financially if they did not separate. Wilde died in France in 1900.
His novels and plays remain enormously popular to this day and are often being reimagined or adapted. Dorian Grey has inspired characters in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Penny Dreadful, and countless film adaptations.