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Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854 - 1900) was a famous Irish playwright, poet and writer. He was born to intellectual parents in Dublin and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and Magdalen College, Oxford, after which he settled in London and became a prominent spokesperson for aestheticism and well-known for his flamboyant dress and clever wit. While he had previously published a number of poems, it was during the 1880s that Wilde began to experiment with other forms of writing, including essays and book reviews, and he subsequently established a career as a prominent literary critic and journalist. In mid-1887 Wilde took over the editorship of The Lady’s World magazine and renamed it The Woman’s World. Under Wilde’s editorship the magazine took a more serious turn, publishing articles on politics and culture, alongside short pieces of fiction. He left The Woman’s World in October 1889 and the magazine folded shortly afterwards. During Wilde’s editorship, Schreiner published a number of things in its pages.

Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was published in 1890, and the 1890s then saw the culmination of Wilde’s glittering career as a playwright, with the staging of his Lady Windermere’s Fan in 1892, A Woman of No Importance in 1893, The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband in 1895, and Salome in 1896. In 1895 Wilde was accused by John Sholto Douglas, the Marquess of Queensberry, of sodomy. Wilde responded by suing Douglas for libel but the matter culminated with Wilde being charged with offences under the Criminal Law Amendment Act  and sentenced to two years imprisonment. On his release from prison in May 1897 Wilde left for France, and he died in Paris in November 1900 from cerebral meningitis. His last published work was a long poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, which appeared in 1898.

Schreiner’s only extant letter to Wilde dates from 1888 when he was editor of The Woman’s World. It concerns the proofs of an article she was planning to publish in the journal.

For further information see:
Owen Dudley Edwards (2004) ‘Wilde, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills (1854-1900)’ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/29400
Richard Ellmann (1988) Oscar Wilde New York: Vintage Books
Merlin Holland and Rupert Hart-Davis (eds) (2000) The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde New York: Henry Holt and Co
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