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Author photo. Photo by Napoleon Sarony: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division 

Photo by Napoleon Sarony: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USZC4-7139) (cropped)

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Flamboyant man-about-town, Oscar Wilde had a reputation that preceded him, especially in his early career. He was born to a middle-class Irish family (his father was a surgeon) and was trained as a scholarship boy at Trinity College, Dublin. He subsequently won a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was heavily influenced by John Ruskin and Walter Pater, whose aestheticism was taken to its radical extreme in Wilde's work. By 1879 he was already known as a wit and a dandy; soon after, in fact, he was satirized in Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience. Largely on the strength of his public persona, Wilde undertook a lecture tour to the United States in 1882, where he saw his play Vera open---unsuccessfully---in New York. His first published volume, Poems, which met with some degree of approbation, appeared at this time. In 1884 he married Constance Lloyd, the daughter of an Irish lawyer, and within two years they had two sons. During this period he wrote, among others, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), his only novel, which scandalized many readers and was widely denounced as immoral. Wilde simultaneously dismissed and encouraged such criticism with his statement in the preface, "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all." In 1891 Wilde published A House of Pomegranates, a collection of fantasy tales, and in 1892 gained commercial and critical success with his play, Lady Windermere's Fan He followed this comedy with A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and his most famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). During this period he also wrote Salome, in French, but was unable to obtain a license for it in England. Performed in Paris in 1896, the play was translated and published in England in 1894 by Lord Alfred Douglas and was illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley. Lord Alfred was the son of the Marquess of Queensbury, who objected to his son's spending so much time with Wilde because of Wilde's flamboyant behavior and homosexual relationships. In 1895, after being publicly insulted by the marquess, Wilde brought an unsuccessful slander suit against the peer. The result of his inability to prove slander was his own trial on charges of sodomy, of which he was found guilty and sentenced to two years of hard labor. During his time in prison, he wrote a scathing rebuke to Lord Alfred, published in 1905 as De Profundis. In it he argues that his conduct was a result of his standing "in symbolic relations to the art and culture" of his time. After his release, Wilde left England for Paris, where he wrote what may be his most famous poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), drawn from his prison experiences. Among his other notable writing is The Soul of Man under Socialism (1891), which argues for individualism and freedom of artistic expression. There has been a revived interest in Wilde's work; among the best recent volumes are Richard Ellmann's, Oscar Wilde and Regenia Gagnier's Idylls of the Marketplace , two works that vary widely in their critical assumptions and approach to Wilde but that offer rich insights into his complex character. (Bowker Author Biography)
— biography from The Picture of Dorian Gray
… (more)
The Picture of Dorian Gray 34,050 copies, 563 reviews
The Importance of Being Earnest 9,984 copies, 165 reviews
The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde 4,440 copies, 21 reviews
The Canterville Ghost 1,903 copies, 61 reviews
De Profundis 1,446 copies, 21 reviews
Salomé 1,407 copies, 24 reviews
An Ideal Husband 1,224 copies, 30 reviews
The Happy Prince and Other Tales 1,180 copies, 24 reviews
Complete Short Fiction 1,120 copies, 13 reviews
Lady Windermere's Fan 957 copies, 28 reviews
The Selfish Giant 764 copies, 17 reviews
The Ballad of Reading Gaol 626 copies, 11 reviews
A Woman of No Importance 575 copies, 13 reviews
The Happy Prince 520 copies, 17 reviews
Teleny (attributed) 431 copies, 6 reviews
The Complete Plays 365 copies, 3 reviews
The Fairy Tales 329 copies, 3 reviews
The Soul Of Man Under Socialism 298 copies, 5 reviews
The Wit and Humor of Oscar Wilde 293 copies, 3 reviews
A House of Pomegranates 278 copies, 7 reviews
Aforismi 267 copies, 3 reviews
Oscar Wilde Stories for Children 232 copies, 5 reviews
The Plays of Oscar Wilde 226 copies, 2 reviews
The Collected Oscar Wilde 190 copies, 2 reviews
Intentions 189 copies, 3 reviews
The Nightingale and the Rose 149 copies, 4 reviews
Stories 147 copies, 3 reviews
The Decay of Lying 122 copies, 2 reviews
The Wit of Oscar Wilde 119 copies, 3 reviews
The Works of Oscar Wilde 116 copies, 1 review
Selected Poems (Phoenix Poetry) 105 copies, 1 review
Nothing...Except My Genius 102 copies, 1 review
The Critic as Artist 87 copies, 3 reviews
The Letters of Oscar Wilde 86 copies, 1 review
The Birthday of the Infanta 79 copies, 1 review
Lord Arthur Savile's Crime (Author) 77 copies, 3 reviews
The Duchess of Padua 54 copies, 2 reviews
Table Talk 53 copies, 1 review
Vera; or, The Nihilists 48 copies, 5 reviews
Selected Plays 42 copies, 2 reviews
Oscar Wilde: Short Stories 40 copies, 1 review
Opere 37 copies
Lord Arthur Savile's Crime 35 copies, 1 review
The Star Child 32 copies, 1 review
Great Short Works 29 copies, 1 review
The picture of Dorian Gray 26 copies, 2 reviews
More Letters 25 copies
Three Plays 23 copies
Contes et récits 23 copies, 1 review
The Sphinx Without a Secret 23 copies, 1 review
Charmides and Other Poems 21 copies, 1 review
Plays and Poems 21 copies
Teleny and Camille 20 copies, 2 reviews
Oscariana 19 copies
The Oscar Wilde Collection 19 copies, 1 review
A Florentine Tragedy 17 copies, 3 reviews
Selected Works 17 copies
Fairy Tales 16 copies
Lady Fuckingham 15 copies, 1 review
Comedies 15 copies
Howards End 15 copies
Racconti 14 copies
The Sphinx 12 copies, 1 review
Torre de papel 11 copies
Cuentos 10 copies
Reviews 9 copies
Stories & Fairy Tales 9 copies, 2 reviews
The Harlot's house: a poem 9 copies, 1 review
La Sainte Courtisane 9 copies, 3 reviews
Shorter Prose Pieces 8 copies, 1 review
Teatro 8 copies, 1 review
Miscellanies 7 copies, 2 reviews
Oscariana 6 copies
Miscellanies 5 copies
Oscar Wilde The Dover Reader 5 copies, 1 review
Letters to the Sphinx 5 copies, 1 review
PLAYS 4 copies
I capolavori 4 copies
Eros kertje 4 copies
Selections from Oscar Wilde 4 copies, 2 reviews
Twee balladen 4 copies
Les Pensées 4 copies
Firenzei tragédia ; A szent parázna (Author) 3 copies, 1 review
Charmides 3 copies
Oscar Wilde Epigrams (Author) 3 copies
Three Tales 3 copies
The Satyricon (supposed translator, some editions) 3,064 copies, 26 reviews
Oscar Wilde (Subject) 1,778 copies, 8 reviews
The Classic Fairy Tales [Norton Critical Edition] (Contributor) 895 copies, 4 reviews
The Nation's Favourite Poems (Author, some editions) 569 copies, 7 reviews
The Book of Fantasy (Contributor) 508 copies, 11 reviews
Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature (Contributor) 457 copies, 8 reviews
A Treasury of the World's Best Loved Poems (Contributor) 453 copies, 4 reviews
The Victorian Fairytale Book (Contributor) 411 copies, 3 reviews
Critical Theory Since Plato (Contributor, some editions) 365 copies
The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales (Contributor) 333 copies, 6 reviews
Eight great comedies (Contributor) 325 copies, 2 reviews
100 Ghastly Little Ghost Stories (Contributor) 297 copies, 4 reviews
Ghosts: A Treasury of Chilling Tales Old & New (Contributor) 288 copies, 2 reviews
Witches & Warlocks: Tales of Black Magic, Old & New (Contributor) 248 copies, 4 reviews
24 Favorite One Act Plays (Contributor) 240 copies, 1 review
The Golden Treasury of Children's Literature Set (Contributor) 186 copies, 3 reviews
The Penguin Book of Irish Verse (Contributor) 177 copies
The Portable Victorian Reader (Contributor) 168 copies
Late Victorian Gothic Tales (Contributor) 168 copies
Masterpieces of the Drama (Contributor) 165 copies, 2 reviews
Love Letters (Contributor) 164 copies, 1 review
The Importance of Being Earnest [2002 film] (Original play) 155 copies, 3 reviews
The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction (Contributor) 139 copies
The Big Book of Classic Fantasy (Contributor) 117 copies, 3 reviews
The Anarchist Reader (Author, some editions) 110 copies
Irish Tales of Terror (Contributor) 110 copies, 2 reviews
The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories (Contributor) 100 copies
The Standard Book of British and American Verse (Contributor) 99 copies, 1 review
Sixteen Famous British Plays (Contributor) 96 copies, 1 review
Thirty Famous One-Act Plays (Contributor) 95 copies, 2 reviews
New Worlds for Old (Contributor) 93 copies, 1 review
Treasury Of Gothic & Supernatural (Contributor) 87 copies, 3 reviews
The Dedalus Book of Decadence (Contributor) 87 copies, 2 reviews
Oscar Wilde (Contributor) 81 copies, 1 review
A Book of Princesses (Contributor) 78 copies
Decadent Poetry (Contributor) 76 copies
Charles Keeping's Book of Classic Ghost Stories (Contributor) 73 copies, 1 review
Chilling Ghost Short Stories (Contributor) 69 copies
Contemporary Drama: 15 Plays (Contributor) 67 copies, 1 review
Victorian Fairy Tales (Oxford World's Classics) (Contributor) 66 copies, 4 reviews
The Folio Book of Comic Short Stories (Contributor) 65 copies, 1 review
Dorian Gray [2009 film] (Original story) 64 copies, 1 review
Easter Stories: Classic Tales for the Holy Season (Contributor) 62 copies, 11 reviews
The Importance of Being Earnest [1952 film] (Original play) 62 copies, 2 reviews
Selected Stories from the 19th Century (Contributor) 61 copies, 1 review
The Mammoth Book of Fairy Tales (Contributor) 57 copies
Victorian Love Stories: An Oxford Anthology (Contributor) 46 copies, 1 review
Great Classic Stories: 22 Unabridged Classics (Author, some editions) 45 copies, 3 reviews
Great Tales of Terror (Contributor) 43 copies
A Century of Humour (Contributor) 42 copies
The Second Dedalus Book of Decadence the Black Feast (Contributor) 39 copies, 3 reviews
Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde, Vol. 5: The Happy Prince (Original Story) 35 copies, 1 review
The Picture of Dorian Gray [1945 film] (Original novel) 35 copies, 1 review
The Vintage Book of Classic Crime (Contributor) 29 copies
Stories To Get You Through The Night (Contributor) 28 copies
Witches, Witches, Witches (Contributor) 28 copies
Irish Ghost Stories (Contributor) 28 copies, 1 review
Salome [libretto] (Librettist, some editions) 25 copies
A Book of Old Ballads (Contributor) 24 copies
A Book of Princes (Contributor) 23 copies, 1 review
Graphic Classics: Oscar Wilde (Author) 21 copies, 2 reviews
The Oscar Wilde Collection (Original stories) 19 copies, 1 review
Cuentos de amor victorianos (Contributor) 17 copies
The Big Book of Victorian Mysteries (Contributor) 15 copies
Twelve Classic One-Act Plays (Contributor) 14 copies
Dare to be Different (Contributor) 13 copies
Dark Holidays: A Collection of Ghost Stories (Contributor) 13 copies, 1 review
All verdens fortellere (Author, some editions) 13 copies, 1 review
Specter! A Chrestomathy of Spookery (Contributor) 13 copies
The chameleon (Contributor) 10 copies
The Star Child: A Fairy Tale (Original Author) 8 copies, 1 review
Love Stories (Contributor) 8 copies
A Little Night Reading (Author) 8 copies, 1 review
A Treasury of Great Short Stories (Contributor) 7 copies
Kipling and the Critics (Contributor) 6 copies
Fear! Fear! Fear! (Contributor) 6 copies
Jabberwocky 3 (Contributor) 5 copies
The Selfish Giant [2013 film] (Original book) 4 copies
La poesía inglesa románticos y victorianos (Contributor) 4 copies, 1 review
Lady Windermere's Fan [1925 film] (Original book) 3 copies, 1 review
Six Short Stories (Contributor) 3 copies
Best Crime Stories (Contributor) 3 copies
An Ideal Husband [1999 film] (Original play) 2 copies
An Ideal Husband [1947 film] (Original play) 1 copy
Wakacje Wśród Duchów (Contributor) 1 copy
The Fan [1949 film] (Original story) 1 copy
Fantastyczne Opowieści (Contributor) 1 copy

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Books to read for Book Club
First Tuesday Book Club, Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 0am
Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Stories [Nine stories].

Brought by our guest Julia Baird, Oscar Wilde’s short but beautiful and bittersweet story of a gilded statue who gives all that he has to give is one that has touched generations of readers. Winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize Jennifer Egans’ extraordinary, elastic novel shuttles the reader backwards and forwards though time and place, following the lives of former punk rocker now successful music biz tycoon, Bennie and his personal assistant Sasha. (alexdaw)… (more)

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Short biography
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, the early 1890s saw him become one of the most popular playwrights in London. He is best remembered for his epigrams, plays, and his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Wilde's parents were Anglo-Irish intellectuals in Dublin. A young Wilde learned to speak fluent French and German. At university, Wilde read Greats; he demonstrated himself to be an exceptional classicist, first at Trinity College Dublin, then at Oxford. He became associated with the emerging philosophy of aestheticism, led by two of his tutors, Walter Pater and John Ruskin. After university, Wilde moved to London into fashionable cultural and social circles.

As a spokesman for aestheticism, he tried his hand at various literary activities: he published a book of poems, lectured in the United States and Canada on the new "English Renaissance in Art" and interior decoration, and then returned to London where he worked prolifically as a journalist. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress and glittering conversational skill, Wilde became one of the best-known personalities of his day. At the turn of the 1890s, he refined his ideas about the supremacy of art in a series of dialogues and essays, and incorporated themes of decadence, duplicity, and beauty into what would be his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). The opportunity to construct aesthetic details precisely, and combine them with larger social themes, drew Wilde to write drama. He wrote Salome (1891) in French while in Paris but it was refused a licence for England due to an absolute prohibition on the portrayal of Biblical subjects on the English stage. Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late-Victorian London.

At the height of his fame and success, while The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) was still being performed in London, Wilde prosecuted the Marquess of Queensberry for criminal libel. The Marquess was the father of Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. The libel trial unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and trial for gross indecency with men. After two more trials he was convicted and sentenced to two years' hard labour, the maximum penalty, and was jailed from 1895 to 1897. During his last year in prison, he wrote De Profundis (published posthumously in 1905), a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. On his release, he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life.
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