Aesthete, dandy, poet, dramatist and philosopher Oscar Wilde's wit and charm dazzled society in London, America and Paris in the late 1880s. But the year 1895 brought Wilde literary triumph -with two plays achieving phenomenal success in London's West End -and personal disaster. Urged on by his friend Lord Alfred Douglas, Wilde brought a libel action against Lord Alfred's father, the eccentric Marquess of Queensberry. The ensuing trials at the Old Bailey revealed Wilde's reckless adventures in the London underworld and he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour. This fascinating biography examines both sides of Wilde's life: the artistic genius who gave us "The Importance of Being Ernest" and "The Picture of Dorian Gray", and the man who visited male prostitutes and was pre-occupied with sin. As well as following Wilde's life from its Dublin beginnings to its end in Paris, this masterly study explores his friendships and literary circle, which included writers such as Yeats, Proust and Gide.
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Harford Montgomery Hyde is the author of over forty books, in particular the Oscar Wilde volume in Famous Trials (Penguin, 1952). He occupied the Wilde's old rooms while at Magdalen College, Oxford and he is a cousin of the American novelist, Henry James, in whose house at Rye in Kent he used to live.
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