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Oscar Wilde Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

Oscar Wilde had gray eyes.12

Wilde visited poet Walt Whitman during his tour of the U.S. in 1882. Afterward Wilde claimed to have made out with the elder poet, boasting that, "The kiss of Walt Whitman is still on my lips."13

Wilde became a member of the Freemasons while at Oxford.14

Wilde's letters to Lord Alfred Douglas were embarrassingly introduced at court during Queensberry's libel trial. Despite his discomfort, Wilde never lost his trademark wit. After defense lawyer Edward Carson read one such letter, Wilde retorted: "When I wrote it, it was beautiful. You read it very badly."15

Rumors have circulated that Wilde actually died of syphilis, most prominently in the Richard Ellmann's respected biography of the poet. However, most doctors conclude that an ear infection and meningitis were the actual causes of his death.16

Wilde's tomb at Père Lachaise cemetery is decorated with a sandstone sphinx. Shortly after it was installed in 1912, a visitor took a hammer and hacked away the sphinx's male genitals. In 2000, the artist Leon Johnson staged a performance at the tomb in which a sterling silver prosthetic schlong was reattached to the sculpture. Really.17

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