Oscar Wilde is notably celebrated as an artist persecuted for his homosexuality, a martyr for the cause of gay rights.
He was prosecuted for “acts of gross indecency with other male persons,” (sodomy) subsequently found guilty, and sentenced to two years hard labor at Reading Gaol prison.
At this time, homosexuality was both a crime, and a grave societal taboo in Britain.
It was about the year 1880 that the name of Oscar Wilde first became a frequent one in common conversation; and from that time until Wilde's death in 1900 he was continually furnishing the English-speaking world with new shocks, new interests, new excitements.
He wrote a novel, The Picture of Dorian Grey, and then in 1892 achieved great fame as a playwright with his drama, Lady Windermere's Fan.
During his prison life he produced two works which perhaps mark the highest reach of his genius: one, a letter to his lover, De Profundis, an explanation and defense of his career, including a horrifying picture of his jail life and mental suffering; the other, a poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol. These remarkable works have been widely read and are widely regarded as classics of their kind.
OSCAR WILDE (1854–1900) was an Irish poet, novelist, playwright, essayist, and short story writer. He is perhaps best known for Salomé, The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windermere’s Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband, De Profundis, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. He is considered a literary colossus, and a central figure in the development of the modern novel.