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In case you didn't know... Oscar Wilde

By Liliana Baltra

Oscar Wilde, the prolific writer of children’s stories, dramas, novels, comedies and poems was born in Ireland, in 1856 at a time when it was part of the United Kingdom. Strangely enough, this prominent writer died in absolute poverty in Paris at the age of 46 and was buried at the cemetery of Père-Lachaise.

He attended Trinity College in Dublin and then thanks to a bursary of 95 English Pounds a year, he entered Magdalene College, Oxford where his lifestyle became notorious. He was a disciple of Walter Pater, the Oxford father of aestheticism. John Ruskin and Stephane Malarmé were also part of this artistic movement.

His famous novel “The Picture of Dorian Grey” was published in 1891. He is also well known for his plays “The Importance of Being Earnest”, “Lady Windermere’s Fan” and others which are apparently light-hearted but they contain serious criticism to the social codes of his time.

At Oxford he carried out an eccentric life. He met with aristocrats whose private lives were openly disapproved by English society at the time. Wilde was also known for hiring young male prostitutes. Accused of immoral and homosexual conduct he was sentenced to two years of hard labor at Reading, where he wrote his famous ballad: “Ballad of Reading Goal”.

Wilde’s life became unbearable when his wife Constance Lloyd changed her name and those of her children because she did not want to be associated to a man who was accused of sodomy.

With no money and having lost all his prestige, he left London and went to Paris where he adopted the name of Sebastian Melmoth. A Catholic priest helped him in this last period of his life and he converted to Catholicism.

He died ill and in absolute poverty and was buried at Père-Lachaise in 1900.

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