Compton-Mackenzie unveils Wilde’s blue plaque
Name: Oscar O’Flahertie Wills Wilde
Dates:1854 - 1900
Address: 34 Tite Street , SW3
Dates at address:1884 - 1895
Born in Dublin, Oscar Wilde was the son of surgeon William Wilde and writer and Irish nationalist Jane Elgee. His Catholicism, Jane’s nationalism and William’s love of folklore and ghost stories inspired his writing. Famous for his homosexuality, Wilde was also married to Constance Lloyd in 1884 and had two sons. Despite their problems they never divorced.
Wilde’s first poetry collection was published in 1881. Success led to a tour of the USA in 1882 and his claim to Whistler that he had “already civilized America.” His wide-ranging works include children’s tales, his only novel Dorian Gray, poetry and editing Women’s World magazine. But he is best remembered for his plays, such as Lady Windermere’s Fan, his first hit, and The Importance of Being Earnest.
Tite Street became Wilde’s marital home in 1884 where his career took off and then came crashing down. Wilde was a familiar and popular figure in Chelsea; a regular at his mother’s soirees at Oakley Street, friend of Lillie Langtry and Ellen Terry and verbal sparing partner for Whistler. Here he wrote his best works, including The Importance of Being Earnest, which was first staged by Herbert Beerbohm Tree at the Haymarket. Then John Douglas, Marquis of Queensbury, ruined him. An insulting card sent by the Marquis forced Wilde to sue and Douglas’ defence evidence resulted in Wilde’s trial and two-year imprisonment for homosexuality in 1895. He left London for Paris on his release in 1897, where he died.
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