Oscar Wilde’s plays for the theatre are very funny but his beautiful short stories are delicate, dramatic and almost poetic. His descriptions of nature and the seasons, especially winter, create a perfect backdrop for his magical tales.

In The Selfish Giant, children love to play in the giant’s beautiful garden. When the giant discovers the children there, he is angry and builds a wall to keep them out. As soon as they leave, winter arrives. Snow and ice cover everything and the birds stop singing. Winter represents the children’s sadness and the sadness of the garden itself. Spring only returns when the giant changes his mind and lets the children play in his garden again.

The Happy Prince tells the story of a poor town full of sad, suffering people. In the town there is a beautiful statue of a prince covered with gold and jewels. The prince wants to help the poor people so, in the winter time, with the help of a swallow, he sacrifices his gold and jewels for them. When the prince has nothing more to give, his heart breaks and the swallow dies of cold. But the people in the town are now finally happy.

Illustration by ​Gianni De Conno, taken from ​The Happy Prince and the Selfish Giant, by ​Oscar Wilde​, Green Apple, Starter (A1).