Oscar: A Life

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'However much you think you know about Wilde, this book will absorb and entertain you. It thickens the texture of every aspect of his unique life – dazzling, decadent and doomed' Sunday Times.

'A perfectly diligent book, and tells new readers all they possibly need to know about Wilde and his world' 
The Times.

'Authoritative, magnificently researched' 

'Matthew Sturgis uses new letters and a libel trial transcript to give a fuller picture of Oscar Wilde's dazzling rise and tragic fall ... He is a tremendous orchestrator of material, fastidious, unhurried, indefatigable' 

'Oscar Wilde is more fashionable than ever, and his demise still makes for a gripping read ... Sturgis's account is fuller and in some ways more reliable [than Richard Ellmann's biography] ... Sturgis's account of the hearing at the Old Bailey is as gripping as it is grim' 

'[Sturgis's biography] is the first major attempt since that of Richard Ellman some 30 years ago, and it's much better ... This is simply the best modern biography of Wilde ... A terrific achievement' 
Evening Standard.

'The Book of the Year, perhaps of the decade ... Captures the wit, the love-ability, the dramatic genius, the insane self-destructiveness, the originality of Wilde ... [Sturgis] is the greatest chronicler of the 1890s we have ever had' 
TLS Book of the Year.

'Astute in its judgements and offers a sharp and detailed grasp of the period and an appreciation of Wilde's ambiguities' 
Irish Times, Books of the Year, Colm Tóibín.

'The first major biography of the great Oscar Wilde in 30 years offers a sumptuous insight into the life of the famous – and infamous – fin de siècle playwright, author and poet' 
Mail on Sunday, Books of the Year, Craig Brown.

'Like Churchill, Oscar Wilde [...] is one of those people who never seem to stop inspiring outstanding biographies, and 
Oscar: A Life by Matthew Sturgis is one of the best, as well as the latest, of a long line' Sunday Telegraph.

'A first rate biography' 
Sunday Express, Books of the Year.

'This book provides not only a comprehensive record of [Wilde's] activities, friendships and financial affairs, but also a powerful sense of what it was actually like to know him ... This is undoubtedly the most comprehensive, reliable and clear-sighted study of Wilde ever likely to be written' 
Dublin Sunday Business Post.

Product Description


The first major biography of Oscar Wilde in thirty years, and the most complete telling of his life and times to date.

'The Book of the Year, perhaps of the decade' 
'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 siècle in the richest and most compelling portrait of Wilde to date.