Oscar Wilde was an Irish author, playwright and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of the most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. He is remembered for his epigrams, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, his plays, as well as the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death.
Married to Constance Lloyd and father of two children Cyril (1885-1915) and Vyvyan (1886-1967), Wilde was also conducting an ongoing affair with Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, the third son of the Marquess of Queensbury. When the outraged Marquess called Wilde a homosexual, the Irish playwright decided to sue for libel. He lost, was arrested for homosexuality (then a crime) and sentenced to two years hard labour for gross indecency.
Following his release, he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol which was dedicated to Charles Thomas Woodridge “Sometime Trooper of the Royal Horse Guards” who was executed for murdering his wife prompting Wilde to famously write:
Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard.
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word.
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
Jail broke his spirit “and that each day is like a year, a year whose days are long,” and a lonely, desolate, poverty-stricken Wilde died in Paris in 1900 at age 46.