12 Facts About Oscar Wilde

by , Saturday October 22, 2016
12 Facts About Oscar Wilde

12 Facts About Oscar Wilde 

Find out more about the writer, the man, and the genius that was Oscar Wilde... 


Just a few days ago on October 16th, it was the birthday of the wonderful classic author Oscar Wilde! Wilde is best known for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray as well as his endless quotable lines and devoted pursuit of the aesthetic. Aside from being an author, though, Wilde was a genuinely interesting person. Here are 12 things you might not have known about Oscar Wilde, paired with a few of his iconic quotes:



1. Oscar Wilde had an incredible ability to remember long passages of writing, which has been attributed to his possible photographic memory. In fact, he’d often test out his clever lines in conversation before putting them into whatever work he was writing.


 “Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.”


2. The character Algernon from The Importance of Being Earnest was based on Wilde’s brother as they tried to improve their relationship. Apparently, Wilde didn’t like his brother very much, but would often give him money.


“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”


3. Sir Max Beerbohm was once able to sum up Oscar Wilde with the following list of words:

Luxury - gold-tipped matches - hair curled - Assyrian-wax statue - huge rings - fat white hands - not soignée - feather bed - pointed fingers - ample scarf - Louis Quinze cane - vast Malmaison - cat-like tread - heavy shoulders - enormous dowager - or schoolboy - way of laughing with hand over mouth - stroking chin - looking up sideways - jollity overdone - But real vitality…Effeminate, but vitality of twenty men, magnetism - authority. Deeper than repute or wit, Hypnotic.


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


4. Wilde was bisexual; he married a woman named Constance Lloyd, but had relationships with many men such as Frank Miles, Robert Baldwin Ross, and, most notably, Lord Alfred Douglas.


“I like men who have a future and women who have a past.”


5. Wilde’s relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas landed him on trial for homosexuality and gross indecency, both illegal in Britain then. He was convicted for sodomy and sentenced to two years of hard labor.


[From the trial]

      Carson [after reading another letter]: Is that an ordinary letter?

      Wilde: Everything I write is extraordinary. I do not pose as being ordinary, great heavens!


6. If you look closely at the cover of The Beatles iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, you’ll see Oscar Wilde right over the shoulder of John Lennon.


“Music makes one feel so romantic - at least it always gets on one's nerves - which is the same thing nowadays.”


7. Oscar Wilde was embarrassed by his extremely white teeth, and often covered his mouth with his hand when he spoke. Eventually, he got dentures.


“To me, Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”


8. Wilde was more famous for his personality and style than his writing during life. After meeting Oscar at the theater, Helena Modjeska said, “What has he done, this young man, that one meets him everywhere? Oh yes, he talks well, but what has he done? He has written nothing, he does not sing or paint or act - he does nothing but talk. I do not understand.”


“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.”


9. The character Basil from The Picture of Dorian Gray was based off Wilde’s artist friend and rival James Whistler.


“We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.”


10. Wilde wrote his stories in ink, but edited them in pencil.


When asked to name the one hundred best books of all time, he replied, "I fear that would be impossible, because I have only written five."


11. During college, Wilde became increasingly known for his pursuit of the aesthetic and support for its movement. He grew his hair long, decorated his room with feathers, flowers, and china, and scorned traditionally “manly” sports.


“I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.”


12. Wilde was so devoted to the aesthetic that in 1882, he toured North America lecturing about the Aesthetic movement. Interestingly, Wilde seemed displeased with the Atlantic Ocean, saying, “It is not so majestic as I expected.” This only added to his reputation for being blasé for the newspaper then headlined, “MR. WILDE DISAPPOINTED WITH THE ATLANTIC.”


      After Wilde landed in New York, a customs official asked what he had to declare. "Nothing but my genius," replied Wilde. 



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