The name of Oscar Wilde is so famous it has almost become a part of general knowledge. Take some time and do some brainstorming yourself. What is the name associated with?
The most common expressions would probably be: writer, Irish, gay, obligatory reading, Dorian Gray, theatre, … (anything else?)
Well, there’s a lot more to the flamboyant1 and witty character of this man. Read about his life and achievements. Put the paragraphs into a logical order and number them 1 to 6.
1 c, 2 _____, 3 _____, 4 ____, 5 _____, 6 ______
a) Young Oscar spent his early days in Dublin. He also got a quality education at Trinity College in Dublin and then he moved to study in Oxford. There he discovered his literary talent and published his first poetry too. He was impressed by the aesthetic movement, saying that things can be beautiful on their own and they do not need any moral evaluation2.
b) While being a successful writer, his private life was falling apart. From the very start of his career he showed some hints3 of homosexuality in his writings, especially in Dorian Gray. However, the real trouble for him began with his affair with Lord Alfred Douglas which cost him his marriage and reputation.
c) Oscar Fingal O’ Flahertie Wills Wilde was born on October 16, 1854 into a respectable Dublin family. His father, Sir William Wilde, was a renowned4 eye doctor. His mother, Jane Francesca, was an educated woman with Italian ancestors who wrote patriotic poetry under a pseudonym. Oscar had an older brother, William, and a younger sister, Isola, who died at the age of nine.
d) After graduation, he lectured and travelled the world. He visited Canada, the United States, and spent some time in Paris too. Then he decided to settle down. At the age of 29, he married the daughter of a wealthy and influential Anglo-Irish family and had two sons. He wrote a collection of beautiful stories for them called The Happy Prince and Other Stories.
e) In 1895, four years after meeting Lord Douglas, Oscar Wilde was arrested and sentenced to two years of hard labor5 for homosexuality. He described the time in prison in some of his writings, and after being free again he never gained his status back. He spent most of his time in Paris where he also died penniless6 in November 1900, aged only 46.
f) Apart from writing for his children, Oscar Wilde started publishing his other famous works: The Picture of Dorian Gray (his first and only novel) and plays Lady Windermere’s Fan, The Importance of Being Earnest, and An Ideal Husband.
Now read some of Oscar Wilde’s famous quotes. Which do you agree or disagree with? Which of them do you like most? Why?
- “When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.”
- “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.”
- “No man is rich enough to buy back his past.”
- “There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating – people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing.”
- “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”