Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence. "The Picture of Dorian Gray" was a success de scandale. Early readers were shocked by its hints of unspeakable sins, and the book was later used as evidence against Wilde at his trial at the Old Bailey in 1895.
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Born in Ireland, Wilde (1854-1900) was educated in Dublin and Oxford and became the leading exponent of aestheticism. His work includes plays, a novel, poetry and criticism. Imprisoned for homosexual acts, he died after his release in exile in Paris. Robert Mighall has written on Gothic fiction and is the editor of Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for Penguin Classics. Peter Ackroyd is a best-selling writer whose recent work includes biographies on Dickens and Blake.
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