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Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin to unconventional parents – his mother Lady Jane Francesca Wilde (1820-96), was an poet and journalist. Her pen name was Speranza. His father was Sir William Wilde, an Irish antiquarian, gifted writer, and specialist in diseases of the eye and ear. Wilde studied at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh (1864-71), Trinity College, Dublin (1871-74) and Magdalen College, Oxford (1874-78). In Oxford, Wilde shocked the faculty and other students with his irreverent attitude towards religion and his eccentric clothes. He collected blue china and peacock’s feathers, and later his velvet knee-breeches drew much attention.

In 1878 Wilde received his B.A. and on the same year he moved to London. His lifestyle and humorous wit made him soon spokesman for Aestheticism, the late 19th century movement in England that advocated art for art’s sake. He worked as art reviewer (1881), lectured in the United States and Canada (1882), and lived in Paris (1883). Between the years 1883 and 1884 he lectured in Britain. From the mid-1880s he was regular contributor for Pall Mall Gazette and Dramatic View. In 1884 Wilde married Constance Lloyd (died 1898). In 1888 he published The Happy Prince and Other Tales, fairy-stories written for his two sons. The Picture of Dorian Gray followed in 1890 and next year he brought out more fairy tales. The marriage ended in 1893. Wilde had met an few years earlier Lord Alfred Douglas (‘Bosie’), an athlete and a poet, who became both the love of the ‘s life and his downfall.

Although married and the father of two children, Wilde’s personal life and years of triumph ended dramatically, when his intimate association with Alfred Douglas led to his trial on charges of homosexuality (then illegal in Britain). He was sentenced two years hard labor for the crime of sodomy. Wilde was first in Wandsworth prison, London, and then Reading Gaol. When he was at last allowed pen and paper after more than 19 months of deprivation, Wilde had became inclined to take opposite views on the potential of humankind toward perfection. During this time he wrote DE PROFUNDIS (1905), a dramatic monologue and autobiography, which was addressed to Alfred Douglas.

After his release in 1897 Wilde lived under the name Sebastian Melmoth in Berneval, near Dieppe, then in Paris. He wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol, revealing his concern for inhumane prison conditions. It is said, that on his death bed Wilde became a Roman Catholic. He died of cerebral meningitis on November 30, 1900, penniless, in a cheap Paris hotel at the age of 46.

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”

“A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.”

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

“Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.”

“We teach people how to remember, we never teach them how to grow.”

“I am not young enough to know everything.”

“Questions are never indiscreet. Answers sometimes are.”

“There is much to be said in favor of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.”

“A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.”

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”

‘The soul is born old but grows young. That is the comedy of life. And the body is born young and grows old. That is life’s tragedy.”

“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

“A man’s very highest moment is, I have no doubt at all, when he kneels in the dust, and beats his breast, and tells all the sins of his life.”

“The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”

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