Oscar Wilde

Born on 16 October 1854, Oscar Wilde was a famous Irish poet and playwright. Part of a family of intellectuals, he was educated at the most prestigious colleges in Great Britain Trinity College, University of Dublin and Magdalen College, University of Oxford. During his years in university, he was drawn to Aestheticism, the art movement prevalent in late 19th century. He wrote essays, propagated ideas as a lecturer and also wrote the famous novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, which he vehemently defended using the concept of making ‘art for art’s sake’.

His aesthetic sensibilities mixed with his wit were apparent in notable plays such as The Importance of Being Earnest and Lady Windermere’s Fan, and established him as a successful playwright.

However, Wilde had a harrowing personal life because of his homosexuality. He was prosecuted and imprisoned in 1895 for two years. The idea of homosexuality in his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray was used against him to strengthen the case. Upon his release, he left for France, never to return to England.

His health declined after his release from prison and he died of meningitis in 1900, aged 46.