Read by Garard Green, Jake Urry & David Shaw Parker (Unabridged: 3hrs 13mins)
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born on the 16th October 1854 in Dublin, Ireland. The son of Dublin intellectuals Oscar proved himself an outstanding classicist at Trinity College and then at Oxford.
Wilde then moved to London and its fashionable cultural and social circles. With his biting wit, flamboyant dress, and glittering conversation, Wilde became one of the most well-known personalities of his day.
His only novel, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ was published in 1890 and he then moved on to writing for the stage with ‘Salome’ in 1891. His society comedies were enormous hits and turned him into one of the most successful writers of late Victorian London.
Whilst his masterpiece, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, was on stage in London, Wilde had the Marquess of Queensberry, the father of his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, prosecuted for libel. The trial unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and trial for gross indecency. He was convicted and imprisoned for two years hard labour. It was to break him.
On release he left for France. There he wrote his last work, ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’ in 1898. He died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six sipping champagne a friend had brought with the line ‘Alas I am dying beyond my means’.