“I can resist everything except temptation.”

Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde


The Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and critic, Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. His father, Sir William Wilde was a successful surgeon and writer while his mother, Jane, was a poet and journalist, writing under the more romantic name of Speranza! Wilde grew up surrounded by his parents’ cultured, intellectual friends and was influenced by their ideas.

He studied first in Dublin and then at Oxford University where he won prizes for his poetry. It was there that he became involved with a literary group known as the Aesthetic movement which valued beauty and art more than social or moral themes. He soon became appreciated as a writer and a critic but was also famous for his intelligent sense of humour and brilliant conversation. In 1888 he published a collection of short stories; The Happy Prince and Other Tales and 3 years later his famous novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde is perhaps best known for his plays and is considered one of the greatest playwrights of the Victorian age. Perhaps the most famous and well-loved is The Importance of Being Earnest which was first performed in 1895. Oscar Wilde died in Paris in 1900 of meningitis.


Illustration by ​Anna + Elena Balbusso, taken from ​The Picture of Dorian Gray, by ​Oscar Wilde​, Reading&Training, Step Five (CEFR B2.1).