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Biography of Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was born on October 16, 1854 to the parents of William Wilde, a leading eye surgeon at Dublin Eye and Ear Hospital and author of archeology and folk, and Jane Wilde, an Irish nationlist writer, at 21 Westland Row, Dublin, Ireland.

At an early age, Oscar was able to meet many famous British individuals. In June 1855, the Wilde's moved to 1 Merrion Square. While there, his mother held sessions with guests that included Samuel Ferguson, George Petrie and many other famous individuals.

Oscar Wilde received his education at home until the age of nine when he attended Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, Fermanagh until 1871. After leaving Portora, Wilde continued his studies at Trinity College, Dublin for the next three years. Wilde was an excellent student receiving the highest award, Berkeley Gold Medal and then receiving a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford where he would study from 1874 to 1878. At Magdalen he did much the same, winning the 1878 Oxford Newdigate Prize for his poem Ravenna. Wilde graduated with a double first.

After Wilde graduatd, he fell in love with Florence Balcome. However, their relationship failed when she became engaged to Bram Stoker. After hearing of her engagement, Wilde wrote Balcome and proclaimed that he would leave Ireland permanently. His next six years were spent in London, Paris, and the United States. He later returned to his home country only twice for brief visits.

During Wilde's stint in London, he met the daughter of a wealthy QC, Constance Lloyd, and began courting her. She visited Dublin in 1884 when Wilde was giving lectures at the Gaiety Theatre. He proposed to her and became married on May 29, 1884 in Paddington, London. With Constance's allowance of £250, the two lived in relative luxury.

The couple had two sons, Cyril in 1885 and Vyvyan in 1886. After Wilde's imprisonment for gross indecency he was sentenced to two years of hard labor on May 25, 1895. Due to this, Constance changed her and her sons names to Holland. She died in 1898 following a spinal surgery and was buried in Staglieno Cemetary in Genoa, Italy. Wilde's first born son later died in France during WWI. His other son, Vyvyan, became a translator and author. Vyvyan published his memoir in 1954.

After Wilde's release from prison on May 19, 1897, he spent much of his remaining years near bankruptcy. He took up the pen-name Sebastian Melmoth, the central character of Melmoth the Wanderer, and wrote one of his finest works, The Ballad of Reading Gaol.

Wilde's last words were reportedly "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has got to go." He spent his remaining days at the Hotel d'Alsace in Paris and being converted to Catholicism.

Oscar Wilde died on November 30, 1900 due to cerebral meningitis. He was buried at the Cimetière de Bagneux outside Paris but was later moved to Le Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. His tomb was designed by the famous sculpor Sir Jacob Epstein.

Poems by Oscar Wilde