Author(s): Oscar Wilde
Between 1891 and 1895 Oscar Wilde produced a sequence of distinctive plays which spearheaded the dramatic renaissance of the 1890s, and retain their power today. The social comedies, Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance and An Ideal Husband offer a moving as well as witty dissection of society and its morals, with a sharp focus on sexual politics. By contrast, the experimental, symbolist Salome, written originally in French, was banned for public performance by the English censor. Wilde's final dramatic triumph was his 'trivial' comedy for serious people, The Importance of Being Earnest, probably the greatest farcical comedy in English. Aubrey Beardsley, the illustrator of Salome, emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. His contribution to the development of the Art Nouveau and poster styles was significant.
Oscar Fingal O'Flaherty Wills Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. He studied at Trinity College Dublin and then at Magdalen College Oxford where he started the cult of Aestheticism, which involves making an art of life. Following his marriage to Constance Lloyd in 1884, he published several books of stories ostensibly for children and one novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1891). Wilde's homosexual relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas was exposed by the young man's father, the Marquis of Queensbury. Wilde was sentenced to two years in prison, was released in 1897, and fled to France where he died a broken man in 1900.