The first major biography of Oscar Wilde in thirty years, and the most complete telling of his life and times to date.
NOMINATED FOR THE WOLFSON HISTORY PRIZE 2019
‘The Book of the Year, perhaps of the decade’ TLS
‘Simply the best modern biography of Wilde… A terrific achievement’ Evening Standard
‘Page-turning… Vivid and desperately moving. However much you think you know Wilde, this book will absorb and entertain you’ The Sunday TimesBooks of the Year
Oscar Wilde’s life – like his wit – was alive with paradox. He was both an early exponent and a victim of ‘celebrity culture’: famous for being famous, he was lauded and ridiculed in equal measure. His achievements were frequently downplayed, his successes resented. He had a genius for comedy but strove to write tragedies. He was an unabashed snob who nevertheless delighted in exposing the faults of society. He affected a dandified disdain but was prone to great acts of kindness. Although happily married, he became a passionate lover of men and – at the very peak of his success – brought disaster upon himself. He disparaged authority, yet went to the law to defend his love for Lord Alfred Douglas. Having delighted in fashionable throngs, Wilde died almost alone. Above all, his flamboyant refusal to conform to the social and sexual orthodoxies of his day make him a hero and an inspiration to all who seek to challenge convention. Matthew Sturgis draws on a wealth of new material and fresh research, bringing alive the distinctive mood and characters of the fin de siecle in the richest and most compelling portrait of Wilde to date.