Oscar Wilde

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Oscar Wilde, picture of Napoleon Sarony , 1882
Signature of Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (born October 16, 1854 in Dublin , † November 30, 1900 in Paris ) was an Irish writer who settled in London after school and study in Dublin and Oxford. As a poet , novelist , playwright and critic , he became one of the most famous and at the same time most controversial writers in Victorian Great Britain . His marriage to Constance Lloyd had two sons. For homosexual "fornication" (gross indecency) he was sentenced to two years in prison with hard labor ; they ruined his health. After his release he lived impoverished in Paris, where he died at the age of 46.


Parental home and childhood

Oscar Wilde's father, William Wilde , was Ireland's premier ear and ophthalmologist and wrote books on archeology , folklore and the satirist Jonathan Swift . His mother Jane was a translator by profession. She was involved in the Young Ireland Movement under the pseudonym "Speranza" ("Hope") and was considered a revolutionary poet . The Wildes had two sons and a daughter. The eldest, William Charles Kingsbury, was born in 1852, Oscar in 1854 and the third child, Isola Francesca, in 1858; she was only ten years old.

The activities of his extravagant parents and especially the salon run by his mother in Dublin brought Oscar Wilde into contact with artists and writers at an early stage. From 1864 to 1871 he attended the Portora Royal School in Enniskillen as a boarding school student .


From 1871 to 1874 Oscar Wilde studied classical literature with brilliant success at Trinity College , Dublin. In the summer he traveled with William Goulding and Reverend John Pentland Mahaffy, his friend and teacher of classical philology at Trinity College, to northern Italy, where he visited Milan, Venice, Padua and Verona, among others.

After winning an annual £ 95 scholarship, Wilde studied at Magdalen College , Oxford from 1874 to 1878 . During this time he entered the Masonic Lodge Apollo University Lodge No. 357. His father had already been an active Freemason in Dublin.

In Oxford, Oscar Wilde quickly caught on with his wit and humor: When he was supposed to translate part of the Passion story from Greek for the entrance exam of a student club , Wilde declared that he wanted to know the end and continued to translate after he had already done the assignment Had solved brilliantly. He was soon known as an esthete . In an aperçu that circulated around the university, he confessed himself to be a lover of precious porcelain: "It is getting harder for me to live on the high level of my blue porcelain every day."

During his studies, he was equally enthusiastic about the aesthetic ideals of Walter Horatio Pater, pointing in the direction of L'art pour l'art, and the deeply moral, religious and socially committed conception of art by John Ruskin , although in very different, almost opposing ways, the new aestheticism represented.

In June 1878 Oscar Wilde found his first literary recognition with his poem Ravenna , which was awarded the Newdigate Prize. In the poem, which depicts a city that sank from its former greatness into nothingness, the impressions of his second trip to Italy had taken on artistic form.

Punch June 25, 1881: Upper esthete! What is a name! The poet wild, poetry tame.

Wilde completed his studies in 1878 with the academic degree of Bachelor of Arts (BA) with distinction. In the following year he moved to London, where he shared an apartment in the now defunct Salisbury Street between the beach and the Thames , the Wilde, until 1881 with the pastel painter Frank Miles (1852-1891), who had excellent connections with London society. Thames House ”.

The years as a successful writer

Wilde was admired as a writer in his day and was decried as a scandal author and dandy in prudish Victorian Britain . He was famous for his fluency and his extravagant demeanor, which he brought out with his unusual clothing (e.g. velvet breeches and silk stockings). As an esthete of aesthetes , who were accused of unmanly devotion to art , he drew the ridicule of the satirical magazine Punch at an early age .

Wilde had published poetry in Dublin University Magazine and Kottabos before his first book publications. His first play, Vera; or the Nihilists (1880), published as a private print. His first volume of poetry, Poems (1881), was published by his London publisher David Bogue in luxurious equipment in three editions of 250 copies each.

Lecture tour in the USA and Canada

Caricature of the Wasp (San Francisco) on the occasion of Wilde's visit to the city in 1882

Wilde was invited to lectures in North America. At the end of 1881 he left for New York. For the following year he lectured on Aestheticism ( The English Renaissance of Art ) and Decorative Arts ( House Decoration ) with surprising success in over a hundred cities in the United States and Canada . He introduced the Pre-Raphaelites , Edward Burne-Jones , John Ruskin and William Morris as key figures in the English Renaissance .

From the first day he arrived in New York, reporters and journalists besieged him, expected bon mots from him and talked extensively about his clothes in the media. His lectures were well attended and he was showered with invitations. There was a remarkable meeting with the lyricist Walt Whitman in Philadelphia on January 18, 1882. On the other hand, Wilde was ruthlessly criticized and caricatured in the press on both sides of the Atlantic. One of the most vicious attacks published Thomas Wentworth Higginson in Woman's Journal (February 4, 1882) under the title unmanly Manhood ( effeminate masculinity ).

Stay in Paris, second trip to the USA

In 1883 Wilde spent several months in Paris, where he wrote the play The Duchess of Padua in the Hotel Voltaire on the left bank of the Seine . During his stay in Paris he was in contact with poets (including Edmond de Goncourt , Victor Hugo , Paul Verlaine ), actresses ( Sarah Bernhardt ) and impressionist painters (including Edgar Degas , Camille Pissarro ). Confronted with the Parisian decadence in the poems of Charles Baudelaire and Paul Verlaine, which fascinated him , he tried to combine this tendency with the movement of the English renaissance of art in the 19th century from the spirit of aestheticism, which he had propagated in America the previous year. When the following year, 1884, the novel Against the Grain ( À rebors ) by the French Joris-Karl Huysmans appeared, which the reviewers unanimously referred to as the “Guide to Decadence”, this novel acquired a significance for Wilde similar to that of Pater's Renaissance in the 1870s Years. In an interview, he said the book was "one of the best I've ever seen".

In the summer of 1883 Wilde traveled to America for the second time, to attend the world premiere of Vera . On August 20, the play was performed to a full house at New York's Union Square Theater, starring Marie Prescott. After being panned in the press, the piece was removed from the program on August 28th.

UK lecture tours and marriage

After his earnings from the American tour were exhausted, Wilde went on two lecture tours of the United Kingdom. A retired army colonel, W. F. Morse, who had already mediated on the American lecture tour, booked numerous events for him. He started his first tour in September 1883. He had chosen impressions from America and The Beautiful House as the lecture topics.

As a poet famous and celebrated not only in the United Kingdom, but also in Europe and America, he married the twenty-six-year-old Constance Lloyd , a wealthy children's author on May 29, 1884, at the age of thirty , and spent their honeymoon in Paris and Dieppe with her . After that, they settled in the Chelsea district of London . The marriage resulted in two sons: Cyril (1885-1915) and Vyvyan (1886-1967).

After his marriage, he went on the second lecture tour through England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland from October 1884 to March 1885. He lectured on “The importance of art in modern life” and “Clothing” from the point of view of beauty.

Editor, playwright and narrator

Oscar Wilde 1889, picture by Downey

Wilde worked for the Pall Mall Gazette from 1887 to 1889 and then as the editor of Woman's World magazine . During these years he published the collection of fairy tales written for his sons The Happy Prince and other fairy tales (1888, classic representative of the art fairy tale genre ) and the novel Das Bildnis des Dorian Gray ( The Picture of Dorian Gray ) (1891). In this work, his only novel, critics found autobiographical elements on the one hand, and a direct response to French symbolism on the other , in particular to Against the Grain by Joris-Karl Huysmans .

In the years that followed, Oscar Wilde wrote a new work about every year, mostly social comedies . Best known are Lady Windermere's Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), which satirically depicts the upper class and is considered one of his best works.

His play Salome from 1891, based on the biblical Salome legend (with famous, sometimes very revealing Art Nouveau illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley ) was rejected by the censor and therefore could not find a publisher in England. It was premiered in Paris in 1894 by and with Sarah Bernhardt . Richard Strauss set Hedwig Lachmann's German translation of his opera Salome to music , which premiered on December 9, 1905 at the Dresden Court Opera .

Oscar Wilde also wrote a detective story: Lord Arthur Savile's Crimes (1887), "Study of Duty," as the story's subtitle reads. The title character is prophesied that he will commit murder. In keeping with his motto, “Do what you must do now,” Lord Arthur decides to commit the foretold crime before he is married.

The portrait of Dorian Gray is considered Oscar Wilde's central prose work . His themes are the morality of sensuality and hedonism in Victorianism and the decadence of the British upper class . In the plot of the novel and in the incorporated art notes, however, both a proclamation and a criticism of aestheticism , a literary movement of the fin de siècle, can be read .

Scandal and prison

According to the biographer Richard Ellmann , Wilde has always been impartial about homosexuality , but practiced it for the first time in 1886 with the then 17-year-old Oxford student Robert Ross , who from then on occupied a permanent place in Wilde's life. Homosexuality fueled his self-discovery process and moved the pros and cons of marriage into the center of his writing in future. His marriage to Constance Lloyd, from which two sons emerged, speaks for Wilde's bisexual orientation.

The family man Wilde was - for the time - relatively open about his homosexuality. His homosexual, more precisely ephebophile partnerships, e.g. B. with his teenage friend and later editor Robert Ross, were not unknown. Wilde's long-term relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas (called Bosie), who was 16 years his junior , ultimately led to a social scandal, three lawsuits and Wilde's demise as a result of targeted provocation by his father, John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry .

Posing for Oscar Wilde Somdomite
Marquis of Queensberry

On February 18, 1895, Queensberry left his business card in the Albemarle Club, which Oscar Wilde regularly attended, with the handwritten addition: "For Oscar Wilde posing Somdomite [sic!]" ("For Oscar Wilde, posing sodomites "). For this reason, Oscar Wilde, after Alfred Douglas had assured him of moral and financial backing, brought a defamation suit against the Marquis , who in his defense tried to prove the truth of his accusation.

Police News May 4, 1895

Wilde went from plaintiff to accused when it was revealed that he had sexual intercourse with young men from the lower class, including male prostitutes. In cross-examination , Oscar Wilde was also questioned by Edward Carson , a former fellow student at Trinity College, about various of his writings, mainly the novel The Portrait of Dorian Gray , which was criticized as "disreputable". Wilde's rhetorical brilliance couldn't prevent the jury from finding Queensberry "not guilty".

Oscar Wilde was then arrested himself and charged with fornication . Since there was initially no sufficient majority in the jury for an acquittal or a conviction, Wilde was released from custody on bail. In a second trial, he was sentenced on May 25, 1895 to two years in prison with hard labor. The decisive factor was not his relationship with Lord Douglas, but his dealings with male prostitutes , some of whom had been heard as witnesses. After his release from custody, friends suggested that Wilde flee England. Wilde refused. William Butler Yeats , who had also advised him to flee, later wrote of Wilde's decision: "I never doubted, not for a moment, that he had made the right decision, and that it was to this decision that he owed half of his fame."

The scandal led to attacks against The Yellow Book magazine and its illustrator Aubrey Beardsley , even though Yellow Book had never published anything by Wilde.

The following two years of hard labor ruined Wilde's health. First, Wilde was brought to the prison in the London borough of Wandsworth, where he had to spend several months in the sick department. He was then transferred to Reading Penitentiary on November 20, 1895 under degrading conditions . As Richard Ellmann reports, he had to wait on the platform for half an hour in handcuffs and prisoner clothing. In this situation the following, often quoted sarcastic sentence could also have been used: "If your Majesty treats her prisoners like this, then she deserves none." His wife, Constance, who visited him on February 19, 1896, told him about his recent death teaching his mother personally was shocked by her husband's condition. She wrote to her brother: "Compared to the past, he is a complete wreck".

Solitary confinement was introduced in the UK a few decades before Wilde's incarceration. Reading penitentiary, like 54 other British prisons during the period, was modeled on Pentonville Prison in London, which opened in 1842 and where Wilde was also incarcerated before his transfer. They all followed the same principle of separation. Overcrowded dormitories in prisons that were seen as "schools of crime" should be eliminated. The solitary cell was no longer only intended to punish convicts, but also to be reformed and isolation appeared to be a suitable means. Many inmates developed mental health problems, "each in his separate Hell," as Wilde put it in Ballad of Reading Gaol .

The blueprint for Reading was from George Gilbert Scott . The floor plan was designed in the form of the Christian cross , which is most common in Western churches , and the junction of open corridors on the central axis of the building served the purpose of closely monitoring all prisoners. The interior of the prison with its Gothic pointed arches also appears as a loan from sacred buildings. Scott was one of the leading neo-Gothic architects and the creator of many churches. Reading Penitentiary was conceived as a place of purification. A treadmill in the building complex, where prisoners had to do forced labor, was used as an instrument of torture. In Wilde's time, the windows were hardly bigger than loopholes with frosted glass panes . Sometimes the prisoners could still see a small piece of the sky somewhere, “that little tent of blue / Which prisoners call the sky”, as he describes in his poetry. In the prison inmates were not allowed to speak. They were also not allowed to look at each other. To go out into the courtyard, they had to wear hoods that completely covered their faces. In the chapel, partitions separated those seated on pews as if in open coffins. The prisoners were under constant surveillance by guards. Every prisoner was shown the dark cells in the basement as soon as they entered custody . Even small misconduct threatened to be incarcerated there in complete silence and darkness. Wilde suffered this once, for a fortnight, which must have been like a single night. He later wrote: “Suffering is one very long moment. We cannot divide it by seasons ". A few words that he had exchanged with another prisoner on the way to the prison chapel were sufficient for the prison administration to order the dark detention. Reading also served the death penalty by hanging from 1845 to 1913 . Wilde later reported on the horror and terror that an impending execution sparked among the inmates.

In Reading Penitentiary , Wilde wrote a 50,000-word letter to Alfred Douglas , which he sent to Robert Ross after his release from prison in order to save him from extermination. Lord Douglas later always denied having ever received this letter. The letter was published posthumously (1905) under the title De Profundis , omitting any offensive sections; In 1949 Vyvyan Holland , Wilde's son, published the letter in a longer but incorrect version, for which Ross' copy was used as the source. In 1962 literary scholars based the original manuscript, which is kept in the British Museum , into a correct and complete print version, which was published in the anthology The Letters of Oscar Wilde . In addition to dealing with the relationship with Douglas, it also deals with the inhumane conditions in the penitentiary (child prisoners, child labor). After his release from prison he had already set out these issues in two letters to the editor to the Daily Chronicle newspaper .

Life in exile

In bad health, Wilde was released from prison on May 19, 1897. After his original plan to retire as a penitent to a Jesuit college for six months was thwarted by the director's immediate refusal, he fled to Paris on the evening of the same day before being ostracized from society. He never set foot on British soil again and wrote nothing but The Ballad from Reading Prison. He spent the last three years of his life under the name Sebastian Melmoth (after the novel Melmoth, the wanderer of his great-uncle Charles Robert Maturin ) on the European mainland in poverty and isolation.

Wilde met Lord Douglas in Naples that same year. He wanted to see his friend again and at the same time end the relationship: “I know it's better if I never see him again.” After another separation, he traveled to Paris in February 1898 and stayed in a cheap hotel on Rue des Beaux-Arts. Former friends, whom he asked for help out of his frequent financial needs, saw him as a lonely and depressed scrounger. Although completely penniless, the owner of the hotel put him in the best room and got the best food and wine. His comment was supposedly: "I'm dying beyond my means", his last words: "Either this hideous wallpaper goes - or I do."

His wife Constance died in Genoa on April 7, 1898, a year after his release from prison. She had left England with the children, lived in the Nuremberg area and changed her name to Constance Holland. Despite her husband's obvious affairs, she had never filed for divorce. As Richard Ellmann writes, "her affection for Wilde (...) was unbroken until the end". From Constance's estate, Wilde received an annual sum of 150 pounds, which would have been enough for a living had he not been inclined to luxury. His debts after his death amounted to £ 400, which his friend and administrator of the literary estate, Robert Ross, paid.

Death and burial

Oscar Wilde's tomb on the Père Lachaise
Lipstick prints on Oscar Wilde's tomb

On November 30, 1900, Oscar Wilde died in the " Hotel d'Alsace " in Paris . His friend Ross had called a Catholic priest who gave Wilde emergency baptism, absolution, and the final unction on his deathbed. He could no longer speak, and whether he was conscious when he converted to the Roman Catholic Church , no one could know, as Ross reported.

According to the South African scientists Ashley Robins and Sean Sellars , Wilde died of the effects of meningitis resulting from a chronic otitis media. Even before he went to prison, he had contacted an ear specialist about numbness. According to the South African scientists, it is a myth that Wilde suffered from syphilis, which was incurable at the time . This contrasts with the statement by Wilde's friend Robert Ross that Oscar was infected with the disease as a student and had to undergo mercury treatment before he married. His biographer, Richard Ellmann , also assumes that syphilis was the cause of death and relies on the information from his closest friends, Reginald Turner and Robert Ross, in whose presence Wilde died, as well as on the reports of the doctors who gave him shortly before his death had examined.

He was first buried on the Cimetière parisien de Bagneux , but in 1909 he was reburied on the Cimetière du Père Lachaise in Paris. In 1950 the ashes of his loyal friend Robert Baldwin Ross were also placed in the grave. A tomb of Jacob Epstein adorns the resting place. For a long time, the grave was decorated with thousands of lipstick kisses from admirers. On the 111th anniversary of his death, the grave was renovated and protected with a glass plate, and an absolute ban on kissing was imposed.


The acquaintance with George Bernhard Shaw led Wilde to occupy himself with socialism. In 1888 he attended several events of the Fabian Society and in 1889 reviewed the hymn book Chants of Labor: A Song-Book of the People , in which he indicated that he considered socialism to be a new mainspring of art. He was also the only man of letters to sign Shaw's petition to pardon the death row inmates of the Haymarket Riots in Chicago.

He wrote the essay The Soul of Man under Socialism with the inspiring reading of Peter Kropotkin's writings. Wilde advocates the abolition of private property and an individualistic, anti-authoritarian socialism . He writes: "The recognition of private property has permanently damaged and tarnished individualism by mistaking people for their property." At the same time as private property, however, the idea of ​​ruling over people must be given up. In his letter from prison (published in abridged version for the first time in 1905 under the title De Profundis ), Wilde speaks with the utmost respect of Kropotkin, who lives in exile in London and with whom he shared the experience of years in prison: “A man with the soul of that snow-white , beautiful Christ, who seems to come out of Russia. "

In a survey by the French literary magazine L'Ermitage , he described himself as an "artist and anarchist" as early as 1873.

Commemoration and honor

Commemorative plaque in Saint Patrick's Park, Dublin

A plaque to Oscar Wilde has stood in Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey since 1995 . At the beginning of 2007 the Vatican included Provocations: Aphorisms for an Anti-Conformist Christianity Oscar Wilde in the list of honor of authors in an anthology .


The former Reading Penitentiary is named as one of the most famous prisons in the world. In 2016 and three years after the prison was no longer in use as such, most recently for juvenile offenders, artists on the scene dealt with the circumstances of Wilde's imprisonment and general questions about it in an exhibition. Under the title Inside: Artists and Writers in Reading Prison , topics such as dealing with homosexuality, separation, isolation, punishment, physical and psychological imprisonment, law, jurisdiction and justice were presented by the non-profit art organization Artangel , which stages art outside of galleries worldwide, cut.

Artangel Director Michael Morris emphasizes De Profundis and The Ballad of Reading Gaol are not the only documents in Wilde's prison criticism: “After his release, Wilde wrote a number of very important letters to public bodies, but also to newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph , about the situation in prison, about the children who were held there and about the effects of the separation. "

The initially influential German critic in the time of naturalism and later persecuted in the Nazi era , Alfred Kerr wrote in 1917 in his sloppy and socially critical style about Wilde, among other things: "His slow execution remains the last act of the Middle Ages ". In addition, the end of the "English Middle Ages" extended to his execution. Wilde is a "style artist" and it is doubtful whether he was more.

Nephew Fabian Lloyd

In 1913, Wilde's nephew Fabian Lloyd, alias Arthur Cravan, published an article in Paris claiming that his uncle was still alive and had visited him in Paris. Oscar Wilde has been in India and Indonesia since 1901 and has returned there. The Paris correspondent for the New York Times fell for this rumor and unsuccessfully searched for witnesses who should have seen the dead savage. Cravan went a step further and bet $ 5,000 that there would be two unpublished manuscripts in the poet's coffin in the Père Lachaise cemetery . However, the French government did not respond to this betting offer or the associated demand for an exhumation.


Oscar Wilde sculpture in
Merrion Square, Dublin

Oscar Wilde puzzled many people back then. He was known to the public as an eloquent, witty entertainer and dandy . He often behaved arrogantly and deliberately. With his astute humor, he often exposed the downside and prejudice, behavior and inconvenient truths of society. Even during his student days, Wilde devoted himself to aestheticism , i.e. to art and a life only for the sake of beauty. He once said that his life was the real work of art and that the literature he wrote was just a touch of his talent. For example, he is said to have said to André Gide :

“My plays are not good, I know, and I don't trouble about that… They are nearly all the result of a bet. So was Dorian Gray - I wrote that in a few days because a friend of mine declared that I could not write a novel. Writing bores me so. "

“My plays are not good, I know, and I don't care… they are almost all the result of a bet. Dorian Gray too - I wrote this in a few days because a friend of mine said I couldn't write a novel. Writing bores me so much. "

Another time he wrote:

“Real beauty ends where the spiritual expression begins (which would be necessary for a definition!). Beauty reveals everything because it expresses nothing. "

We know that Oscar Wilde was in reality a perfectionist and that he kept revising his own works intensively until he was satisfied with them. The number of works he has written also belies his testimony. However, he pretended that pleasure and dandyism were more important to him than his works. Maybe what he was showing the public as a personality was just a mask.

“To the world I seem, by intention on my part, a dilettante and dandy merely - it is not wise to show one's heart to the world - and as seriousness of manner is the disguise of the fool, folly in its exquisite modes of triviality and indifference and lack of care is the robe of the wise man. In so vulgar an age as this we all need masks. "

“To the world I appear, on my part on purpose, just like a dilettante and dandy - it is not wise to show your heart to the world - and how serious behavior is the fool's disguise is folly in its exquisite forms of triviality and Indifference and lack of concern are the wise man's garb. In such a tasteless age like this, we all need masks. "

Even if he wanted to make the public believe otherwise, he was, as some letters show, often deeply hurt by the harsh criticism of his works. Probably what he wanted most of all in his life was the recognition of his work, but also, for all his otherness and eccentricity, above all to be accepted for what he was: an Irishman, an artist and a person.

Homosexuality in the Victorian Age

The Criminal Law Amendment Act, an amendment to British penal law that made sexual acts between men a criminal offense, had not come into force until 1885. Such acts were, however, more common in boarding schools for boys and among the then male students in colleges and were largely ignored by the teaching staff. Adult men, on the other hand, who maintained a very close friendship, were exposed to extortion under the Criminal Law Amendment Act.

Oscar Wilde, branded as homosexual, had a serious influence on the image of gays in public and the development of a stereotype (still valid today) of homosexual men. So were z. B. Men who cultivated an extravagant style, mockingly referred to as "Oscar". Pronounced humor and eloquence, enthusiasm for beautiful things such as interior design and clothing and Wilde's public eccentric personality should be regarded as evidence and the epitome of homosexuality.


See also in the categories Work by Oscar Wilde and Work after Oscar Wilde

Lippincott's Monthly Magazine with the first version of the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray
Aubrey Beardsley: The Apotheosis, Illustration to Salome , published in The Studio , Vol. 1, No. 1, 1893


Stories and fairy tales



  • The Picture of Dorian Gray ( The Picture of Dorian Gray, novel, 1890) in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, 1891 at Lock, Ward and Co., London, a book edition

The only novel by Oscar Wilde has the aestheticism and dandyism of the fin de siècle as the subject and represents one of the first attempts to "introduce homoeroticism into the English novel", as his biographer Ellmann writes. According to him, the treatment of this taboo subject made the work famous and gave it its originality.

Stage plays

  • Vera or the Nihilists ( Vera; or, the Nihilists , 1880)
  • Salomé (1891), u. a .: S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt 2001, German by Peter Torberg
  • Lady Windermeres Fan ( Lady Windermere's Fan , 1892), u. a .: S. Fischer Verlag, 2012, German by Peter Torberg
  • The Duchess of Padua ( The Duchess of Padua , 1893), u. a .: S. Fischer Verlag, 2004, German by Peter Torberg
  • A woman without meaning , also: Nur eine Frau ( A Woman of No Importance , 1893), S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt, 2003, German by Peter Torberg
  • An ideal husband ( An Ideal Husband , 1894), u. a .: S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt 2000, German by Peter Torberg
  • To be serious is everything , alternative German titles: Bunbury / The meaning of being serious / Bunbury, or to be serious is everything ( The Importance of Being Earnest , around 1895), S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt 1999, German by Peter Torberg



The authorship of the two works

  • Teleny , Roman (1895, initially published anonymously)
  • The Priest and the Acolyte, narration ( The Priest and the Acolyte , 1894)

is attributed to Wilde, but has not been proven. Today it is assumed that The Priest and the Messnerknabe was written by the Oxford student John Bloxam (1873-1928).

In 1927 the Berlin publishing house Globus Verlag published the supposedly “only authorized German edition” of Oscar Wilde's Im Banne der Liebe. A Burmese mask game released. However, the work is a forgery by the alleged translator Fanny Weiß.

Work editions

  • Complete Writings of Oscar Wilde. 10 volumes. The Nottingham Society, New York 1907 (first American edition)
  • Oscar Wilde: Works. 14 volumes. Methuen and Co, London 1908 (first complete English edition, limited to 1,000 copies)
  • Oscar Wilde's Complete Works in German. 10 volumes. Wiener Verlag, Vienna and Leipzig 1908 (first German edition)
  • Oscar Wilde: Complete Works in Seven Volumes. Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2000
  • Oscar Wilde: Works in five volumes (New Zurich Edition). Gerd Haffmans at two thousand and one, Frankfurt am Main 2004


  • Peter Ackroyd : The Diary of Oscar Wilde. Roman (= Goldmann 72778 btb ). Goldmann, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-442-72778-2 .
  • Barbara Belford: Oscar Wilde. A paradoxical genius. A biography. Haffmans, Zurich 2000, ISBN 3-251-20314-2 .
  • Maud de Belleroche : Oscar Wilde ou l'amour qui n'ose dire son nom . Favre, Lausanne 1987.
  • Mary Warner Blanchard: Oscar Wilde's America. Counterculture in the Gilded Age. Yale University Press, New Haven CT et al. a. 1998, ISBN 0-300-07460-3 .
  • Franz Blei (Ed.): In memoriam Oscar Wilde. Insel-Verlag, Leipzig 1904, Textarchiv - Internet Archive .
  • Richard Ellmann : Oscar Wilde. From the American by Hans Wolf . Piper, Munich a. a. 1991, ISBN 3-492-03174-9 (the most important recent biography; several German editions; original edition: Oscar Wilde. Hamilton, London 1987, ISBN 0-241-12392-5 ).
  • Nicholas Frankel: Oscar Wilde: the unrepentant years , Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2017, ISBN 978-0-674-73794-5
  • Peter Funke: Oscar Wilde. With personal testimonials and picture documents (= rororo 50148 = Rowohlt monograph. 148). 18th edition. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 2001, ISBN 3-499-50148-1 .
  • André Gide : Oscar Wilde. Reminiscences. Philosophical Library / Open Road, Newburyport 2012, ISBN 978-1-4532-4041-0 (annotated e-book version).
  • Frank Harris : Oscar Wilde. His Life and Confessions. 2 volumes. By the Author, New York NY 1918, ( Volume 1  - Internet Archive - Volume 2  - Internet Archive ).
  • Merlin Holland : Oscar Wilde cross-examined. The first complete transcript of the Queensberry Trial. Blessing, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-89667-240-1 .
  • Merlin Holland: The Oscar Wilde Album. Blessing, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-89667-077-8 (photographs).
  • Vyvyan Holland Introduction. In: Oscar Wilde: Complete Works. Reprinted edition. Collins, London et al. a. 1981, ISBN 0-00-410541-9 .
  • Philippe Jullian : The Portrait of Oscar Wilde. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1972, ISBN 3-455-03687-2 .
  • Robert N. Keane (Ed.): Oscar Wilde. The man, his writings, and his world (= AMS Studies in the Nineteenth Century. 32). AMS Press, New York NY 2003, ISBN 0-404-64462-7 .
  • Walther Skaupy, Great Trials of World History, Splendor and Misery of the Poet Oscar Wilde, p. 210 ff, Magnus Verlag, Essen
  • Oscar Wilde: A Life in Letters. Edited and annotated by Merlin Holland. Translated from the English by Henning Thies. Blessing, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-89667-279-7 .
  • Simone Reissner: About Oscar Wilde - A Psychoanalytic Consideration. In: System ubw - Journal for Classical Psychoanalysis. Vol. 25, Issue 1, 2007, pp. 5-33, ISSN  0724-7923 .
  • Jens Rosteck : The Sphinx falls silent. Oscar Wilde in Paris. Propylaea, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-549-07129-9 .
  • Matthew Sturgis: Oscar: a life , London: Head of Zeus, 2018, ISBN 978-1-78854-597-6
  • Michèle Mendelssohn: Making Oscar Wilde , Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, ISBN 978-0-19-880236-5
  • Kimberly J. Stern: Oscar Wilde: a literary life , Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, [2019], ISBN 978-3-030-24603-7

Film biographies

1960 published two British films that have life of Oscar Wilde, in particular its court cases on the topic: Oscar Wilde by Gregory Ratoff with Robert Morley as Oscar Wilde and The Trials of Oscar Wilde ( The Trials of Oscar Wilde ) by Ken Hughes with Peter Finch In the main role.

The 1997 film Wilde by British director Brian Gilbert , in which Oscar Wilde is played by Stephen Fry , encompasses Wilde's years as a successful man of letters in London, the time of trials and their consequences. The film is based on Richard Ellmann 's biography of Wilde , for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1989 .

Rupert Everett directed the 2018 film The Happy Prince , which is about Wildes' last years in exile. The director himself can be seen in the main role.

Plays about Oscar Wilde

  • Moisés Kaufman: Fornication - The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde (Gross Indecency: The Trials of Oscar Wilde). First performed in New York in 1997. German by Peter Torberg, Felix Bloch Erben, Berlin, 1998.
  • Inken Kautter, Kay Link : A Long, Sweet Suicide - The Oscar Wilde Case , world premiere on April 28, 2011 at the Freie Werkstatt-Theater , Cologne

Web links

Commons : Oscar Wilde  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Oscar Wilde  - Sources and full texts


  1. Apollo University Lodge no. 357 : History 1870–1914.
  2. ^ Richard Ellmann : Oscar Wilde. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1992, p. 76. I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china. Ellmann ( limited preview in Google Book Search).
  3. Ravenna . ( Wikisource )
    “Free Nachdichtung” by Felix Dörmann in Die Fackel No. 185 October 17, 1905 (PDF) pp. 5–14.
  4. ^ Salisbury Street from the river: british-history.ac.uk . The area was built over with the Hotel Cecil as early as 1890, which in 1930 had to give way to the Shell Mex House, which still exists today, except for the 80 Strand facade. See Ed Glinert: Literary London. A Street by Street Exploration of the Capital's Literary Heritage (2000).
  5. Oscar Wilde. In: Encyclopedia Britannica
  6. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 177.
  7. ^ First publication of Oscar Wilde's poems
  8. For the context and topics of this lecture tour see the web project by John Cooper: Oscar Wilde in America . ; accessed October 20, 2017.
  9. a b Text: The English Renaissance of Art
  10. ^ Text: House Decoration
  11. ^ Mary Warner Blanchard: Oscar Wilde's America: Counterculture in the Gilded Age. Edwards Brothers, Ann Arbor MI 1998, p. 1.
  12. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1992, pp. 242–246; Ellmann p. 274 books.google
  13. ^ Mary Warner Blanchard: Oscar Wilde's America: Counterculture in the Gilded Age. Edwards Brothers, Ann Arbor, Michigan 1998, p. 27. English text: Unmanly Manhood .
  14. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1992, pp. 350–352; Ellmann p. 379 books.google .
  15. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 350 f .; Ellmann p. 413 books.google ; Joseph Pearce: Literary Converts. Spiritual inspiration in an Age of Unbelief . HarperCollins 1999. p. 5 books.google
  16. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 336 f.
  17. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 340.
  18. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1992, pp. 363–365.
  19. Article on the novel Das Bildnis des Dorian Gray . In: Kindlers New Literature Lexicon . Volume 17. Kindler, Munich 1988, pp. 667f.
  20. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 382 f.
  21. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 391.
  22. See the trials: Splendor and misery of the poet Oscar Wilde. In: Walther Skaupy, Great Processes in World History . Emil Vollmer Verlag, Essen, ISBN 3-88851-277-8 , pp. 188-218.
  23. nationalarchives.gov.uk
  24. Quoted from Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1992, p. 635. “ but I have never doubted, even for an instant, that he made the right decision, and that he owes to that decision half of his renown. "Yeats: The Trembling of the Veil Book IV Chapter III .
  25. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 666.
  26. "If this is how Her Majesty treats her prisoners, she doesn't deserve to have any." An exact source could not be determined.
  27. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 670.
  28. a b And in the dark for him who speaks. Retrieved October 16, 2018 .
  29. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 709.
  30. Susanne Luber: Epilogue to the 'Letter from Prison.' In: Oscar Wilde: Works in 5 volumes. Volume 5: Late Works. Gerd Haffmans at Zweiausendeins, Frankfurt am Main 2004, p. 259.
  31. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, pp. 748, 752 f., 766 f.
  32. My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.
  33. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 744.
  34. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 757.
  35. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, pp. 777, 787.
  36. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 781.
  37. Sandra Standhartinger: Oscar Wilde died of an ear infection - syphilis as the cause of death is highly unlikely , Pressetext Austria, November 24, 2000.
  38. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 142.
  39. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 403.
  40. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 403.
  41. ^ Anarchism: Anarchism as a movement, 1870-1940. In: Encyclopedia Britannica, britannica.com
  42. Oscar Wilde: The soul of man under socialism. In: ders .: Essays. Volume 3 of the New Zurich Edition. Gerd Haffmans at Zweiausendeins , Frankfurt am Main 2004, p. 244.
  43. ^ JB Foreman (Ed.): The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. 2001, HarperCollins, p. 1087.
  44. Oscar Wilde: Letter from prison. In: ders .: late works. Volume 5 of the New Zurich Edition. Gerd Haffmans at Zweiausendeins, Frankfurt am Main 2004, pp. 67–250, here: 201.
  45. Autrefois, j'étais poète et tyrant. Maintenant je suis artiste et anarchiste  ». Quoted from David Goodway: Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow. Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward. PM Press, Oakland, CA, ISBN 978-1-60486-221-8 , p. 77.
  46. Thomas Kielinger: The Catholic Church rehabilitates Oscar Wilde . In: Die Welt , January 9, 2007
  47. Gina Thomas, Reading: Reading Prison: From the depth of the cell . ISSN  0174-4909 ( faz.net [accessed May 13, 2019]).
  48. Alfred Kerr : The world in drama . 5 volumes. S. Fischer, Berlin 1917 (= collected writings, first row), p. 406.
  49. Oscar Wilde: A Study. From the French of André Gide with introduction, notes and bibliography by Stuart Mason. Holywell Press, Oxford 1905, pp. 48-49 . Rainer Kohlmayer: Oscar Wilde in Germany and Austria. Studies on the reception of comedies and on the theory of stage translation . Max Niemeyer Tübingen 1996 (Theatron Volume 20), p. 116 books.google with the French original text Gides.
  50. Peter Sitte : Aesthetics as a basic value of education. In: Winfried Böhm , Martin Lindauer (ed.): “Not much knowledge saturates the soul”. Knowledge, recognition, education, training today. (= 3rd symposium of the University of Würzburg. ) Ernst Klett, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-12-984580-1 , pp. 323-348, cited here: p. 326.
  51. See also Hans-Dieter Gelfert : Madam I'm Adam - A cultural history of English humor. P. 185 ff.
  52. ^ Letter to Philip Houghton, February 1894. Letters. P. 353.
  53. ^ Result of a study of British boarding schools and colleges, see: Lambert, Royston and S. Milham: The Hothouse Society . Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London 1968.
  54. ^ Richard Ellmann: Oscar Wilde. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1992, p. 441.
  55. Fuld, Werner: The lexicon of forgeries. Piper, Munich / Zurich 2000, p. 346 f.
  56. [Gide's memories of his friendship with Oscar Wilde, 1891–1898]