Today marks exactly 131 years since the first publication of The Picture of Dorian Gray by famous Irish writer, Oscar Wilde, in its earliest form in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. To celebrate this novel that has since then become a manifesto for the British Aesthetic movement, and its author that has gained considerable recognition among scholars and artists alike, let’s take a look at some unknown facts about Oscar Wilde, and The Picture of Dorian Gray! From fun to heartbreaking, fascinating to scandalous, take your pick, and share your favorite piece of trivia with your friends!
a cENSORED FIRST EDITION
Wilde’s editor cut at least 500 words from the story before its initial publication in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, because the content was deemed improper.
The PREFACE WAS ADDED LATER
In 1891, Wilde revised his novel to include six additional chapters and a preface in which he defines the Aesthetic movement in art and literature, two things he believed should be seen for their beauty and emotional impact, rather than their moral lessons.
Oscar Wilde, a gay icon
Oscar Wilde was forced to keep his homosexuality a secret and married Constance Lloyd in 1884.
a secret love affair
Wilde met Lord Alfred Douglas, a young British poet, sixteen years his junior. They soon became lovers.
wilde & the 9th Marquess of queensberry
Alfred’s father, John Douglas, the 9th Marquess of Queensberry found out about the affair and sought to expose Wilde. He sent him a calling card at the private Albemarle Club in London that read: “For Oscar Wilde, posing sodomite.”
This will lead to a major hit to Wilde’s reputation, as well as a trial during which the author was sentenced to serve two years of hard labor for “gross indecency” in 1895.
Isola emily francesca wilde
Oscar Wilde had a little sister, Isola Emily Francesca whom he was incredibly fond of. Young Isola died of a sudden fever in 1867. Wilde never fully recovered from the loss of his younger sister and carried a lock of her hair sealed in an envelope with him until the day he died.
just the one novel!
The Picture of Dorian Gray is the only novel that Wilde wrote in his lifetime. He was also a poet, an essayist, a skilled linguist, and wrote several short stories!
Wilde, a feminist?
Oscar Wilde always wanted a girl, and often dressed one his sons in girls’ clothing.
a form of courtship or an aesthetic manifesto?
Some biographers believe The Picture of Dorian Gray to be a love letter to Lord Alfred Douglas. In the novel, Basil is an artist who’s attracted to Dorian Gray, a beautiful youth – much like Wilde’s lover. Although this was used in trial against him, it was never proven, especially since Wilde met Lord Douglas after he first published The Picture of Dorian Gray in 1890.
ah, the wallpaper
Wilde’s last words reportedly were: “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to death. Either it goes or I do.” Witty ’till the end!
who said it?
The quote, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken,” that Wilde is famously credited with was in reality never proven to have been said by him, nor do we have any written evidence of it anywhere.