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Oscar Wilde

Biographies of Oscar Wilde
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Oscar Wilde's colourful life and disappointing end have made him a continual fascination for biographers, beginning with many by people known to him soon after his death.

* After Wilde's death, his friend Frank Harris wrote a biography, Oscar Wilde: His Life and Confessions. Of his other close friends, Robert Sherard, Robert Ross, Charles Ricketts and Lord Alfred Douglas variously published biographies, reminiscences or correspondence.
* An account of the argument between Frank Harris, Lord Alfred Douglas and Oscar Wilde as to the advisability of Wilde's prosecuting Queensberry can be found in the preface to George Bernard Shaw's play The Dark Lady of the Sonnets.
* In 1946, Hesketh Pearson published The Life of Oscar Wilde (Methuen), containing materials derived from conversations with Bernard Shaw, George Alexander, Herbert Beerbohm Tree and many others who had known or worked with Wilde. This is a lively read, although inevitably somewhat dated in its approach. It gives a particularly vivid impression of what Wilde's conversation must have been like.
* In 1954 Vyvyan Holland published his memoir Son of Oscar Wilde. It was revised and updated by Merlin Holland in 1989.
* In 1987 literary biographer Richard Ellmann published his detailed work Oscar Wilde.
* In 1994, Melissa Knox published her psychobiography, Oscar Wilde: A Long and Lovely Suicide. This book explores the ways in which Wilde's literary styles and the events of his life developed in response to his desires, conflicts, and suffering. It offers new biographic information as well as new insights into Wilde as an artist.
* In 1997 Merlin Holland published a book entitled The Wilde Album. This rather small volume contained many pictures and other Wilde memorabilia, much of which had not been published before. It includes 27 pictures taken by the portrait photographer Napoleon Sarony, one of which is at the beginning of this article.
* 1999 saw the publication of Oscar Wilde on Stage and Screen written by Robert Tanitch. This book is a comprehensive record of Wilde's life and work as presented on stage and screen from 1880 until 1999. It includes cast lists and snippets of reviews.
* In 2000 Columbia University professor Barbara Belford published the biography, Oscar Wilde: A Certain Genius.
* 2003 saw the publication of the first complete account of Wilde's sexual and emotional life in The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde by Neil McKenna (Century/Random House).
* 2003 also saw the publication of the first uncensored transcripts of Wilde's 1895 trial vs. the Marquess of Queensberry. The book contained a 50-page introduction by Merlin Holland, and a foreword by John Mortimer. It was published as Irish Peacock and Scarlett Marquess: The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde in the UK, and as simply The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde in some other countries.
* 2005 saw the publication of The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, by literary biographer Joseph Pearce. It explores the Catholic sensibility in his art, his interior suffering and dissatisfaction, and his lifelong fascination with the Catholicism, which led to his deathbed embrace of the Church.
* In 2008 Chatto & Windus published Thomas Wright's "Oscar's Books", a biography of Wilde the reader, which explores all aspects of his reading, from his childhood in Dublin to his death in Paris. Wright tracked down many books that formerly belonged in Wilde's Tite Street Library, which was dispersed at the time of his trials; these contain Wilde's marginal notes, which no scholar had previously examined. The book will be published as a Vintage paperback in September 2009. It was published in the USA as Built of Books: How Reading Defined the Life of Oscar Wilde (2009)

[edit] Novels and fiction about Wilde's life

* In 1955 Sewell Stokes wrote a novel, Beyond His Means, based on the life of Oscar Wilde.
* In 1983 Peter Ackroyd published The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde, a novel in the form of a pretended memoir.
* In 1991, cartoonist Dave Sim published Melmoth, a partially fictionalized account of Oscar Wilde's last days, as a part of his graphic epic Cerebus.
* In 1987, Robert Reilly wrote and published "The God Of Mirrors", a novel based on the facts of Wilde's "dazzling life and tragic fate."

[edit] Biographical films, television series and stage plays

* The play Oscar Wilde (1936), written by Leslie and Sewell Stokes, based on the life of Wilde, included Frank Harris as a character. Starring Robert Morley, the play opened at the Gate Theatre in London in 1936, and two years later was staged in New York where its success launched the career of Morley as a stage actor.
* Two films of his life were released in 1960. The first to be released was Oscar Wilde starring Robert Morley and based on the Stokes brothers' play mentioned above. Then came The Trials of Oscar Wilde starring Peter Finch. At the time homosexuality was still a criminal offence in the UK and both films were rather cagey in touching on the subject without being explicit.
* In 1960, the Irish actor Micheál MacLíammóir began performing a one-man show called The Importance of Being Oscar. The show was heavily influenced by Brechtian theory and contained many poems and samples of Wilde's writing. The play was a success and MacLiammoir toured it with success everywhere he went. It was published in 1963.
* In 1972, director Adrian Hall's and composer Richard Cumming's play Feasting with Panthers, based on Wilde's writings and set in Reading Gaol, premiered at the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island.
* In the summer of 1977 Vincent Price began performing the one-man play Diversions and Delights. Written by John Gay and directed by Joseph Hardy,[1] the premise of the play is that an aging Oscar Wilde, in order to earn some much-needed money, gave a lecture on his life in a Parisian theatre on 28 November 1899 (just a year before his death). The play was a success everywhere it was performed, except for its New York City run. It was revived in 1990 in London with Donald Sinden in the role.
* In 1978 London Weekend Television produced a television series about the life of Lillie Langtry entitled Lillie. In it Peter Egan played Oscar. The bulk of his scenes portrayed their close friendship up to and including their tours of America in 1882. Thereafter, he was in a few more scenes leading up to his trials in 1895.
* Michael Gambon portrayed Wilde on British television in 1985 in the three-part BBC series Oscar concentrating on the trial and prison term.
* 1988 saw Nickolas Grace playing Wilde in Ken Russell's film Salome's Last Dance.
* In 1989 Terry Eagleton premiered his play St. Oscar. Eagleton agrees that only one line in the entire play is taken directly from Wilde, while the rest of the dialogue is his own fancy. The play is also influenced by Brechtian theory.
* Tom Holland's 1988 play (radio version 1990, professional performance 1991) The Importance of Being Frank relates Wilde's trial, imprisonment and exile, using quotation and pastiche of The Importance of Being Earnest.
* In 1994 Jim Bartley published Stephen and Mr. Wilde, a novel about Wilde and his fictional black manservant Stephen set during Wilde's American tour.
* Moises Kaufman's 1997 play Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde uses real quotes and transcripts of Wilde's three trials.
* Wilde appears as a supporting character in Tom Stoppard's 1997 play The Invention of Love and is referenced extensively in Stoppard's 1974 play Travesties.
* Avoiding the restrictions on the two films from 1960, British actor Stephen Fry portrayed Wilde (whose fan he had been since the age of 13) in the 1997 film Wilde to critical acclaim - a role that he has said he was "born to play". Fry, an acknowledged Wilde scholar, also appeared as Wilde in the short-lived American television series Ned Blessing (1993).
* David Hare's 1998 play The Judas Kiss portrays Wilde as a manly homosexual Christ figure.
* In 1999, Romulus Linney published "Oscar Over Here" which recounts Wilde's lectures in America during the 1880s, specifically in Leadville, CO, as well as his time in prison and a death fantasy which included a conversation with a Jesus Christ figure. The first performance of this work was in New York in 1995.
* The main character in the Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty musical A Man of No Importance identifies himself with Oscar Wilde, and Wilde appears to him several times.
* Actor/playwright Jade Esteban Estrada portrayed Wilde in the solo musical comedy ICONS: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World, Vol. 1 in 2002.
* Oscar: in October 2004, a stage musical by Mike Read about Wilde closed after just one night at the Shaw Theatre in Euston after a severe critical mauling.
* De Profundis in 2004, a theatrical adaptation of Wilde's letter of the same name, was performed by Don Anderson at the Segal Centre for the Arts in Montreal, Quebec. Receiving rave reviews and playing to sold out audiences, the role won Anderson the MECCA, Montreal English Critic's Circle Award, for best actor of 2004.


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