'Mr. Oscar Wilde', 1891.
© NMeM / Kodak Collection / Science & Society
A photographic portrait of Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), taken by W. and D. Downey in 1891. Wilde is pictured seated. An acclaimed Irish playwright, Wilde studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was known for his intelligence, wit and eccentricity. In the literary world, his plays brought him to the fore. 'Lady Windermere's Fan' (1892), 'A Woman of No Importance' (1893), 'An Ideal Husband' (1895), and 'The Importance of Being Earnest' (1895), were all hugely popular. In 1895, Wilde faced a libel case, subsequent arrest and two further trials. He was found guilty of having a homosexual affair with Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas (1870-1945), was sentenced and imprisoned for two years for 'gros indecency'. Wilde's 'Ballad of Reading Gaol' (1898), written following his release, expresed his personal and harrowing experience of prison life. This photograph appears in 'The Cabinet Portrait Gallery' series of celebrity portraits and biographies pu