On this day in 1854, Irish wit, playwright, bon vivant—and hero—Oscar Wilde was born. He is best known for his brilliant (and successful) late-Victorian “society” plays which include The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windemere’s Fan, A Woman of No Importance, and An Ideal Husband—plays which are still performed worldwide to this day. He wrote The Picture of Dorian Grey, the tragic play Salomé, and treatises on “Aestheticism”—the philosophy that art should exist for beauty’s sake alone.
Wilde was one of Victorian society’s most-prominent personalities: he dressed flamboyantly, had a successful (highly-visible) career, always had a witty comment to share, and surrounded himself with a coterie of beautiful, young men.
Though he lived a life brimming with incisive wit, supreme intelligence, deep emotion, and immense beauty, he also suffered greatly at the hands of his tormentors. His great love, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, was spoiled, impetuous, mercurial, and selfish—and Oscar seemed powerless before him. Bosie was also the son of a powerful and important man, The Marquess of Queensberry, who was determined to ruin Oscar Wilde. Queensberry pushed for the prosecution of Wilde on charges of gross indecency. Alas, Oscar Wilde lost his case and was sentenced to two years of hard labor in Redding Gaol. This torture broke Oscar Wilde and he would never be the same. Oscar’s wife, Constance, moved to Italy with their two young sons—after changing their last names to “Holland.” While in prison, Oscar also lost his mother.
After leaving prison, he moved to Paris never again to see Ireland or England. Oscar Wilde died in Paris—broken and destitute—at the age of 46.
The Irish brooch, pictured above, is made of a polished cabochon of Connemara marble—from the windswept Western coast of the Emerald Isle. Click on the photo above to learn more about it.
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