Study Guide

Oscar Wilde Timeline

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Oct 16, 1854

Oscar Wilde Born

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde is born in Dublin to Sir William and Francesca Elgee Wilde. Oscar is the second of the couple's three children, though he has three half-siblings from his father's previous relationships.

Dec 19, 1864

Starts School

Wilde begins his studies at the Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, Ireland.

Dec 19, 1871

Starts College

Wilde enrolls at Trinity College in Dublin to study classics. He is an outstanding student, earning the school's top prize in Greek.

Dec 19, 1874

Attends Oxford

Wilde is awarded a Berkeley Gold Medal, Trinity's top honor for classics students. He earns a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford, and enrolls there for further studies. Wilde raises some eyebrows at Oxford for his flamboyant dress and mannerisms.

Nov 1, 1878

Graduates From Oxford

Wilde is awarded the Newdigate Prize at Oxford for his poem "Ravenna." He receives a bachelor's degree with top honors in classical moderations and classics. He moves to London.

Dec 19, 1881

Poems Published

Wilde publishes his first book, a collection of verse entitled Poems. He has established a reputation as a leader in the London aesthetic movement, and is parodied as a dandy in the Gilbert & Sullivan opera Patience.

Dec 19, 1882

U.S. Lecture Tour

Wilde spends the year lecturing in the United States. During his time in America, he meets poet Walt Whitman, whom he greatly admires, and produces his first play, Vera, in New York. The play is unpopular.

Dec 19, 1883

Lectures in the U.K.

Wilde does a lecture tour through England. He writes his second play, The Duchess of Padua, which also tanks.

May 29, 1884


Wilde marries Constance Lloyd, the wealthy daughter of an English barrister, in London. The couple settles in the Chelsea neighborhood of London.

Jun 5, 1885

Son Born

The couple's first child, son Cyril, is born.

Nov 3, 1886

Son Born

The Wildes' second son, Vyvyan, is born.

Dec 19, 1887

Women's World

Wilde is hired to revitalize the failing magazine Women's World. During his two years there, he turns the magazine around, insisting that the publication "deal not merely with what women wear, but with what they think, and what they feel."

Dec 19, 1888

Fairy Tales Published

Wilde publishes The Happy Prince and Other Tales, a collection of fairy tales.

Dec 19, 1891

Books Published

Wilde publishes a book of short stories as well as a collection of essays outlining his thoughts on aestheticism. He also publishes his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was serialized in a magazine the year before. Critics attack Wilde's moral character on the basis of the book's homoerotic overtones. He also befriends an Oxford student named Lord Alfred Douglas.

Dec 19, 1892

Theatrical Success

Wilde writes the play Lady Windermere's Fan, which is a hit. He also writes a play in French called Salomé, but it is not produced because of a law forbidding the depiction of Biblical characters on stage.

Dec 19, 1893

A Woman of No Importance

Wilde's comedic play A Woman of No Importance premieres to great success.

Feb 14, 1895

The Importance of Being Earnest

Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest premieres at St. James's Theatre in London. He and Lord Alfred Douglas are now lovers, a fact that enrages Douglas's father the Marquis of Queensberry. Queensberry attempts to get into the theater so that he can throw vegetables at Wilde but is barred from entry.

Feb 18, 1895

The Calling Card

Queensberry leaves a calling card at Wilde's home inscribed to "Oscar Wilde, posing somdomite" (he meant sodomite, a pejorative term for homosexuals). Wilde decides to sue Queensberry for libel, a decision that ends up ruining his life.

Apr 3, 1895

Queensberry's Trial Begins

The libel trial begins. It soon becomes clear that the trial is more about Wilde's conduct as a gay man than about Queensberry's libel. Lawyers grill Wilde on his work and relationships, and submit his letters to Alfred Douglas as evidence. Queensberry is acquitted; Wilde is immediately arrested on charges of gross indecency.

Apr 26, 1895

Wilde's Trial Begins

Wilde's trial for indecency opens. At his family's urging, Douglas leaves the country and goes to France. Constance Wilde takes their sons to Europe and changes their last name. Wilde never sees his children again.

May 25, 1895


Oscar Wilde is convicted of gross indecency and is sentenced to two years hard labor. He is sent immediately to prison and is eventually transferred to Reading Gaol.

Feb 3, 1896

Mother Dies

Wilde's mother Francesca dies. His wife Constance visits him in prison in order to break the news. Wilde pays for her funeral but is unable to afford a headstone, and so she is buried in an unmarked grave.

May 19, 1897

Release from Jail

Wilde is released from Reading Gaol in poor health. He goes to France, where he spends the rest of his life in exile.

Aug 1, 1897

Reunited with Douglas

Wilde and Alfred Douglas, whom he calls "Bosie," reunite in France. They soon separate and a penniless Wilde moves into the Hotel d'Alsace in Paris.

Apr 7, 1898

Wife Dies

Wilde's wife Constance dies in Italy following spinal surgery at the age of 40. The couple lived apart after the trials but never officially divorced.

Nov 30, 1900

Oscar Wilde Dies

After a deathbed conversion to Catholicism, Oscar Wilde dies of meningitis in Paris at the age of 46. He is buried first in Cimitiere de Bagneaux, but his tomb is later moved to Paris' famed Père Lachaise Cemetery.

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