Author: Sturgis Matthew
Format: Deckle Edge
Package Dimensions: 43x242x1195
Number Of Pages: 864
Release Date: 12-10-2021
Details: Product Description
The fullest, most textural, most accurate—most human—account of Oscar Wilde’s unique and dazzling life—based on extensive new research and newly discovered materials, from Wilde’s personal letters and transcripts of his first trial to newly uncovered papers of his early romantic (and dangerous) escapades and the two-year prison term that shattered his soul and his life.”Simply the best modern biography of Wilde.” —Evening Standard
Drawing on material that has come to light in the past thirty years, including newly discovered letters, documents, first draft notebooks, and the full transcript of the libel trial, Matthew Sturgis meticulously portrays the key events and influences that shaped Oscar Wilde’s life, returning the man “to his times, and to the facts,” giving us Wilde’s own experience as he experienced it.
Here, fully and richly portrayed, is Wilde’s Irish childhood; a dreamy, aloof boy; a stellar classicist at boarding school; a born entertainer with a talent for comedy and a need for an audience; his years at Oxford, a brilliant undergraduate punctuated by his reckless disregard for authority . . . his arrival in London, in 1878, “already noticeable everywhere” . . . his ten-year marriage to Constance Lloyd, the father of two boys; Constance unwittingly welcoming young men into the household who became Oscar’s lovers, and dying in exile at the age of thirty-nine . . . Wilde’s development as a playwright. . . becoming the high priest of the aesthetic movement; his successes . . . his celebrity. . . and in later years, his irresistible pull toward another—double—life, in flagrant defiance and disregard of England’s strict sodomy laws (“the blackmailer’s charter”); the tragic story of his fall that sent him to prison for two years at hard labor, destroying his life and shattering his soul.
About the Author
MATTHEW STURGIS is the author of acclaimed biographies of Aubrey Beardsley and Walter Sickert, and has written for
The Times Literary Supplement, The Daily Telegraph, and
The Independent on Sunday.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
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A FAIR SCHOLAR
Knowledge came to me through pleasure.
At the end of January 1864 Oscar and his brother were sent away to school, leaving the six-year-old Isola at home. It was an escape from the nursery and the rule of governesses. The Portora Royal School at Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, a hundred miles north of Dublin, was an ancient foundation, established in 1608 by James I for the education of the town’s recently transplanted Scotch Presbyterian population. During the course of the nineteenth century, however, it had transformed itself into a far more outward-looking institution. And under the enlightened stewardship of Rev. William Steele, beginning in 1857, it emerged as a small but flourishing and academically renowned public school. The position of Enniskillen at the heart of the expanding Irish railway network made it a convenient location. Boarding pupils arrived from across the country, the sons of colonial officials, Irish gentry, established clergy, and professional men.
The Wildes had connections with Portora (the art master, William “Bully” Wakeman, was a friend of the family’s and had provided some illustrations for Sir William’s book on the Boyne), but the reputation of the place, both academic and social—it was known to some as “the Eton of Ireland”—would have been quite enough to commend it. The school was handsomely housed in a fine Georgian mansion on the top of the hill outside the town, with beautiful views out over Lower Lough Erne. When the Wilde brothers arrived, they were among 175 pupils: 112 boarders and 63 day boys. The boys, ranging in age from ten (according to the prospectus) to seventeen, were divided into distinct lower and upper schools.
The headmaster, Dr. Steele, was a remarkable man: intellectually distinguished, liberal-minded, frank, even noble (he encouraged Catholics