Oscar Wilde, (1854-1900). Irish dramatist, essayist, and poet. After a brilliant academic career in Dublin and Oxford, a lecture tour of the US confirmed his reputation as a wit before he had published anything of note. His novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) was at-tacked as immoral, but his plays, including Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), were runaway successes. Although married with two sons, in 1891 he began the homosexual relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas that was to ruin him; in 1895 he was sentenced to two years’ hard labour for homosexual offences. The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1895) was written during his imprisonment. Released bankrupt in 1897, he went to France and lived in poverty. He was converted to Catholicism on his deathbed.