May 18, 1897

Oscar Wilde was released from prison on this date; he went to France, where he wrote his poem, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol.” He was born Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde on October, 16 1854, to William Wilde, an Irish doctor and Jane Francesca Elgee, who wrote revolutionary poems under the pseudonym “Speranza” for The Nation. After study at Trinity College, Dublin and Oxford, Wilde moved to London and went on to become one of the best known writers and personalities of his day. At the height of his success, Wilde was arrested over an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. He was charged with “gross indecency” and imprisoned for two years’ hard labour. Wilde never recovered from the harsh treatment of prison and died at age 46 in Paris.

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