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Life

'Ballad of Reading Gaol' UoR Coll

Oscar Wilde was born on 16 October 1854 in Dublin, to the renowned surgeon and antiquarian, Sir William Wilde, and the writer, feminist, and Irish patriot, Jane Francesca “Speranza” Wilde. He graduated from Trinity College Dublin and Magdalen College Oxford with the highest honours in classical studies.

In 1879 Wilde moved to London. He became a serious and ambitious author, but he was also a flamboyant self-publicist. An inspiration to some and a joke to others, with his boldness and wit he challenged and entertained his age.

On 24 May 1884 Wilde married Constance Lloyd, a timid but self-consciously modern woman. They had two sons, Cyril (1885-1915) and Vyvyan (1886-1967). Wilde also had sexual relationships with young men. In 1891 he befriended Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, a reckless and destructive 21-year-old. Douglas's father, the Marquess of Queensberry, became violently opposed to the friendship. At the height of Wilde's fame, Queensberry provoked Wilde into suing him for libel. In the courtroom Wilde's private life was soon exposed. He was sentenced to two years with hard labour for “acts of gross indecency with another male person.” On his release, Wilde went to Europe. His health and his fortunes had been ruined by his imprisonment. He died in Paris on 30 November, 1900.

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