A major new biography of the charismatic and controversial Victorian icon, Oscar Wilde.
'Some said my life was a lie but I always knew it to be the truth; for like the truth it was rarely pure and never simple.' Oscar Wilde, 3 days before his death
Oscar Wilde was one of the great personalities of his age. As paradox was the motive force of his wit, so it was the defining motif of his life. He was an Irish Protestant fascinated by the Catholic church, an English writer who claimed to be better understood in France, a homosexual man married with two small children, an artist who achieved fame before he produced art, a dandy who made artificiality a natural mode of expression.
Wilde stood in symbolic relations to his times. His prose and his actions confronted both the materialism and the hypocrisy of the Victorian Age. It was a dazzling display, of wit, intellect, daring, and - eventually - recklessness. And he paid the price for it.
In this rich, humane and colourful new biography, the critically acclaimed biographer Matthew Sturgis considers the paradoxes and dramatic ironies of Wilde's life. It is a life that seems to take on the force and colour of fiction. The arc of his career, from early promise and initial disappointment, via huge triumph and spectacular self-indulged disgrace to an ultimate pathos-touched resolution, might follow the trajectory of one Wilde's own fairy stories, but it is in its detail, its awkwardness, and its humanity that the real truth and drama lie.