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OSCAR WILDE Oscar (Fingal O’Flahertie Wills) Wilde Born October 15, 1854 Father—eye and ear surgeon knighted by Queen Victoria for founding a hospital Attended Oxford—known for flamboyant dress (wore green carnation in his lapel), collected peacock feathers and blue china Came to personify the term “Dandy” used to describe men who paid excessive attention to their appearance. Became a spokesman for Aestheticism, a belief in the supreme importance of “Art for Art’s sake” Spent ten months giving 125 lectures throughout the United States. Returned to Britain after disappointing reception of first play, Vera Married Constance Lloyd Wrote Salome in French—play was refused a license for performance in England, though the 1896 Paris production starred Sara Bernhardt Social criticism of Wilde’s openly homosexual behavior (though married with children, he professed a deep passion for young men) led to the end of his career. Wilde’s relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas led Douglas’s father to publicly accuse Wilde of homosexuality. Refused to flee the Continent—in subsequent trials was convicted of “public indecency” and sentenced to two years of hard labor With the scandal, his plays ceased production Upon release from prison, divorced and bankrupt, adopted the name of Sebastian Melmouth and moved to Paris, France, where he died in 1900.
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