Born in Dublin, writer Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854-1900) found his way by moonlight, creating the morality tale The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) and farcical masterpiece The Importance of Being Ernest (1895).
"The truth is rarely pure and never simple," observed the brilliant playwright who dressed eccentrically and often carried a sunflower. San Francisco critic Ambrose Bierce called Wilde "the looniest of a brotherhood of simpletons."
Controversial and outspoken, Wilde believed that verbal wit was the world's only salvation amid the chaos and insanity of living. "A man can't be too careful in the choice of his enemies," said the flamboyant novelist.
Wilde often said that life imitates art, not the reverse. His triumphant 1882 American speaking tour and immense literary fame were overshadowed in his lifetime by a 1895 sodomy conviction and two-year imprisonment.
"The two great turning points in my life were when my father sent me to Oxford, and when society sent me to prison," Wilde confessed.
Despite setbacks, Wilde lived his final years in Paris, with a spirit that friend George Bernard Shaw described as "an unconquerable gaiety of soul."
"In this world there are only two tragedies," observed Wilde. "One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."
More Oscar WILDE Quotations
Find your way by moonlight.