Pride Month – Oscar Wilde & The Importance of Being Earnest

by jeanineoloughlin

June is LGBT Pride Month so let’s take some time to appreciate authors of the community and their great works.


Oscar Wilde 10/16/1854 – 11/30/1900

An Irish author, playwright and poet of the Victorian era. He is best known for his play The Importance of Being Earnest and his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Oscar Wilde was fluent in both French and German in addition to his native English. When Wilde moved to London he was welcomed into fashionable cultural & social circles of the time and became one of the best known personalities of Britain’s elite well before his written works received notice. Many of his works were considered offensive to Victorian era morality, and many would say that Wilde was simply a man ahead of his time, which ultimately led to his incarceration and some would say his death.

Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray was published in 1890 in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine as a complete story, but later published as it’s own novel in 1891. In the magazine publication the editors felt that the story was “indecent” and without the author’s knowledge removed five hundred words before publication. However, even with the censorship the story still offended the moral sensibilities of British book reviews of the time.

The Importance of Being Earnest was first performed on Valentine’s Day of 1895 in London’s St James’ s Theatre. It’s a satirical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fake personae to escape social obligations of the time. it was criticized for not containing a social message, but was considered one of the greatest comedies of the time. Many say that this play was the climax of Wilde’s career but was also the start of his sad persecution for his sexuality.

In 1985 while The Importance of Being Earnest was still performing in London Wilde had the Marquess of Queensberry prosecuted for libel. The Marquess was the father of Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. However, the trial unearthed evidence of his relationship with Lord Douglas and eventually led to his own arrest and trial for “gross indecency with other men.” He was convicted and imprisoned for two years’ hard labour. Wilde continued to write while in prison, but his works never again reached the fame that he had once achieved. Upon his release in 1897 he traveled to France where he remained, never to return to his home of Ireland or Britain. Wilde died destitute in Paris at the age of 46 in 1900 of cerebral meningitis. Wilde’s tomb currently resides at Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. In 2011 the tomb had to be cleaned of the lipstick marks left by so many admirers, and a glass barrier was installed to prevent further marks of damage.


*Please note that for the sake of my sanity and in support of everyone’s right to be themselves I have disabled comments on these posts.