Oscar Wilde's birthday - October 16

From Writer's Almanac:

Oscar Wilde is considered by many to be the world's greatest wit. He's the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), Salome (1891), An Ideal Husband (1895), and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895).

He was a brilliant conversationalist. There are entire books devoted to Oscar Wilde's one-liners. Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote in his memoir about how he once had dinner with Wilde: "His conversation left an indelible impression upon my mind. He towered above us all, and yet had the art of seeming to be interested in all that we could say. He had delicacy of feeling and tact. ... He took as well as gave, but what he gave was unique. He had a curious precision of statement, a delicate flavour of humour and a trick of small gestures to illustrate his meaning, which were peculiar to himself."

His most famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest, opened in London on Valentine's Day 1895; he was 40 years old. A few months later, he was convicted of "acts of gross indecency," meaning that he had a male lover. He was sentenced to two years hard labor. When he got out of prison he moved to Paris, where his health deteriorated and he died at the age of 46 in a seedy hotel, at which he was registered under the name Sebastian Melmoth. Poet W.H. Auden later wrote: "From the beginning Wilde performed his life and continued to do so even after fate had taken the plot out of his hands."

Oscar Wilde said, "Life is never fair. ... And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not."

Writer's Almanac.

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