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About the Author
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was an Irish writer, poet, and prominent aesthete; who, after writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. Today he is remembered for his epigrams, plays and the tragedy of his imprisonment and early death. Wilde's parents were successful Dublin intellectuals, and from an early age he was tutored at home, where he showed his intelligence, becoming fluent in French and German. He attended boarding school for six years, then matriculated to university at seventeen years of age. Reading Greats, Wilde proved himself to be an outstanding classicist, first at Dublin, then at Oxford. His intellectual horizons were broad: he was deeply interested in the rising philosophy of aestheticism (led by two of his tutors, Walter Pater and John Ruskin) though he also profoundly explored Roman Catholicism. After university Wilde moved to London, into fashionable cultural and social circles. As a spokesman for aestheticism, he tried his hand at various literary activities: he published a book of poems, lectured America and Canada on the new "English Renaissance in Art", and returned to London to work prolifically as a journalist for four years. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress, and glittering conversation, Wilde was one of the best known personalities of his day. At the turn of the 1890s, he refined his ideas about the supremacy of art in a series of dialogues and essays; though it was his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, which brought him more lasting recognition. The opportunity to construct aesthetic details precisely, combined with larger social themes, drew Wilde to writing drama. He wrote SalomÃ© in French in Paris in 1891, but it was refused a licence. Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London.