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The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Wild About Oscar

The Importance of Being by Oscar Wilde is a brief, 55-65 page play, depending on the edition. It’s also one of Oscar Wilde’s most famous works.  First performed on stage in 1895, it is a comedy of deception and misunderstandings.  Two friends both assume the name “Ernest” to impress two different women who happen to love that name. Enter a droll butler or two, a snobbish aunt, and mix it all up with snappy dialogue and you have ready-made smiles. It’s fun. It’s short. And it’s worth a look.

A bit about the author:  
Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854.  He was a multi-talented and wildly popular witty writer and lecturer. He wrote everything from fairy tales, to poems and plays, as well as one novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. He was a husband and father of two boys, and he was gay, a well-known secret.  When he was professionally at the top of his game, he had an affair with Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas.  Unfortunately, Alfred’s father, the Marquess of Queensberry, found out and was not too pleased. Alfred’s angry dad left Oscar a nasty little calling card on which he called him a sodomite, though in his outrage he misspelled it as somdomite.  Oscar took offense to the slur and sued the marquis for libel—a life-changing error on his part.  He should have let it go, let it go, or at least known the importance of having a good attorney. During the trial Daddy Douglas’s sneaky lawyer turned attention to Wilde’s alter-lifestyle. Exhibits A and B were revealing homosexual
In Merrion Square, Dublin
passages from his works and love letters to Bosie. A collective gasp ricocheted through the courtroom like a bullet; order was restored; the libel suit was dismissed; and Oscar Wilde was arrested for “gross indecency.”  Wilde was acquitted. But the Liberal government stepped in and there was another trial. Three months after the successful opening of The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde was convicted
Tomb at Pere Lachaise Cemetery 
and sentenced to a two-year prison term of hard labor in the Reading Gaol outside of London.  After he was released, he was emotionally and financially drained.  Needless to say, his wife and kids disowned him. Wilde escaped to France and the only notable thing he wrote was about his experience in prison, a poem called “The Ballad of Reading Gaol.”  At the age of 46, Wilde died of cerebral meningitis.  He is buried in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Happy Reading,


  1. Wow! That was so interesting. I never knew that about Oscar Wilde. Thank you for your blog I love it. You are a GREAT WRITER and I can't wait for your next blog. Thank You!!

  2. Thank you for your interesting post, I alwasy enjoy reading your blog.

    I love anything by Oscar Wilde but "The Importance of Being Ernest" is probably my favourite.

    I have read a book about his wife which is also a book about Oscar himself, highly recommendable. It's by Franny Moyle and it's called "Constance"

    Marianne from
    Let's Read

  3. Thanks for the comment and suggestion, Marianne. I will have to check the book out. It sounds very interesting.


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