Books

The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays

Oscar Wilde

Who would have thought a comedy of manners written more than a hundred years ago would still be so apt and so funny? Oscar Wilde was a genius of play-writing, and his deftness, wit and sharp eye for social satire keep audiences in thrall to this day. Alongside Earnest, discover a biblical tragedy retold, Lady Windemere and her infamous fan and Wilde's take on an ideal husband, in this selection of Wilde's most important plays.

Only Dull People Are Brilliant at Breakfast

Oscar Wilde

'It would be unfair to expect other people to be as remarkable as oneself'

Wilde's celebrated witticisms on the dangers of sincerity, duplicitous biographers, the stupidity of the English - and his own genius.

One of 46 new books in the bestselling Little Black Classics series, to celebrate the first ever Penguin Classic in 1946. Each book gives readers a taste of the Classics' huge range and diversity, with works from around the world and across the centuries - including fables, decadence, heartbreak, tall tales, satire, ghosts, battles and elephants.

Lord Arthur Savile's Crime

Oscar Wilde

'He was not blind to the fact that murder, like the religions of the Pagan world, requires a victim as well as a priest...'

Wilde's supremely witty tale of dandies, anarchists and a murderous prophecy in London high society.
Introducing Little Black Classics: 80 books for Penguin's 80th birthday. Little Black Classics celebrate the huge range and diversity of Penguin Classics, with books from around the world and across many centuries. They take us from a balloon ride over Victorian London to a garden of blossom in Japan, from Tierra del Fuego to 16th-century California and the Russian steppe. Here are stories lyrical and savage; poems epic and intimate; essays satirical and inspirational; and ideas that have shaped the lives of millions.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). Wilde's works available in Penguin Classics are De Profundis and Other Prison Writings, The Complete Short Fiction, The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays, The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Soul of Man Under Socialism and Selected Critical Prose.

The Selfish Giant

Oscar Wilde (and others)

The Selfish Giant has a beautiful garden, but he won't let any of the children play in it. Winter comes and never leaves, until the power of love brings Spring and joy into the Giant's garden and his heart...

Lady Windermere's Fan

Oscar Wilde

Beautiful, aristocratic, an adored wife and young mother, Lady Windermere is 'a fascinating puritan' whose severe moral code leads her to the brink of social suicide. The only one who can save her is the mysterious Mrs Erlynne whose scandalous relationship with Lord Windermere has prompted her fatal impulse. And Mrs Erlynne has a secret - a secret Lady windermere must never know if she is to retain her peace of mind.

De Profundis and Other Prison Writings

Oscar Wilde (and others)

De Profundis and Other Prison Writings is a new selection of Oscar Wilde's prison letters and poetry in Penguin Classics, edited and introduced by Colm Tóibín.

At the start of 1895, Oscar Wilde was the toast of London, widely feted for his most recent stage success, An Ideal Husband. But by May of the same year, Wilde was in Reading prison sentenced to hard labour. 'De Profundis' is an epistolic account of Oscar Wilde's spiritual journey while in prison, and describes his new, shocking conviction that 'the supreme vice is shallowness'. This edition also includes further letters to his wife, his friends, the Home Secretary, newspaper editors and his lover Lord Alfred Douglas - Bosie - himself, as well as 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol', the heart-rending poem about a man sentenced to hang for the murder of the woman he loved.

This Penguin edition is based on the definitive Complete Letters, edited by Wilde's grandson Merlin Holland. Colm Tóibín's introduction explores Wilde's duality in love, politics and literature. This edition also includes notes on the text and suggested further reading.

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin. His three volumes of short fiction, The Happy Prince, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and A House of Pomegranates, together with his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, won him a reputation as a writer with an original talent, a reputation enhanced by the phenomenal success of his society comedies - Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest.

Colm Tóibín is the author of five novels, including The Blackwater Lightship and The Master, and a collection of stories, Mothers and Sons. His essay collection Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovar appeared in 2002. He is the editor of The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

The Penguin English Library Edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

'I am jealous of everything whose beauty does not die. I am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me ... Why did you paint it? It will mock me some day - mock me horribly!'

A story of evil, debauchery and scandal, Oscar Wilde's only novel tells of Dorian Gray, a beautiful yet corrupt man. When he wishes that a perfect portrait of himself would bear the signs of ageing in his place, the picture becomes his hideous secret, as it follows Dorian's own downward spiral into cruelty and depravity. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a masterpiece of the evil in men's hearts, and is as controversial and alluring as Wilde himself.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

Upon seeing his own striking portrait Dorian Gray is bewitched and offers his soul if only the painting will age while he remains eternally youthful. Believing himself incorruptible, Dorian indulges in a life of pleasure and excess. But what has become of his portrait?

Nothing . . . Except My Genius: The Wit and Wisdom of Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

'I have nothing to declare,' Wilde once told an American customs official, 'except my genius.' A socialite, a wit, a man who flaunted convention and was unafraid to shock, Oscar Wilde was a great writer and a great man. This new collection of wit and wisdom demonstrates the brilliance of his vision, the audacity of his style. Such is the scope of the material, it brings to life the Wilde of great feeling as well as the Wilde of great art.

The Decay of Lying: And Other Essays

Oscar Wilde

In 'The Decay of Lying' Oscar Wilde uses his decadent ideology in an attempt to reverse and therefore reject his audiences' 'normal' conceptualizations of nature, art and morality. Wilde's views of life and art are illustrated through the use of Platonic dialogue where the character Vivian takes on the persona of Wilde. Wilde's goal is to subvert the norm by reversing its values. Wilde suggests to us that society is wrong, not him. Calling on diverse examples - from Ancient Greek sculpture to contemporary paintings - Oscar Wilde's brilliant essay creates a witty, paradoxical world in which the only Art worth loving is that built on complete untruths.

The Canterville Ghost, The Happy Prince and Other Stories

Oscar Wilde

A collection of stories, including two of Wilde's most famous: 'The Canterville Ghost', in which a young American girl helps to free the tormented spirit that haunts an old English castle and 'The Happy Prince', who was not as happy as he seemed. Often whimsical and sometimes sad, they all shine with poetry and magic.

The Ballad of Reading Gaol and Other Poems

Oscar Wilde

This poem - originally published anonymously, written after Wilde's two year's hard labour in Reading prison - is the tale of a man who has been sentenced to hang for the murder of the woman he loved. The Ballad of Reading Gaol follows the inmate through his final three weeks, as he stares at the sky and silently drinks his beer ration. Heart-wrenching and eye-opening, the ballad also expresses perfectly Wilde's belief that humanity is made up only of offenders, each of us deserving a greater charity for the severity of our crimes.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Film Tie-in)

Oscar Wilde

Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence. The Picture of Dorian Gray was a succès de scandal. Early readers were shocked by its hints of unspeakable sins, and the book was later used as evidence against Wilde at his trial at the Old Bailey in 1895.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde (and others)

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY IRVINE WELSH

Dorian is a good-natured young man until he discovers the power of his own exceptional beauty. As he gradually sinks deep into a frivolous, glamorous world of selfish luxury, he apparently remains physically unchanged by the stresses of his corrupt lifestyle and untouched by age. But up in his attic, hidden behind a curtain, his portrait tells a different story...

A Woman of No Importance

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde's audacious drama of social scandal centres around the revelation of Mrs Arbuthnot's long-concealed secret. A house party is in full swing at Lady Hunstanton's country home, when it is announced that Gerald Arbuthnot has been appointed secretary to the sophisticated, witty Lord Illingworth. Gerald's mother stands in the way of his appointment, but fears to tell him why, for who will believe Lord Illingworth to be a man of no importance?

The Happy Prince and Other Stories

Oscar Wilde

These special fairy tales, which Oscar Wilde made up for his own sons, include 'The Happy Prince', who was not as happy as he seemed; 'The Selfish Giant', who learned to love little children; 'The Star Child', who suffered bitter trials when he rejected his parents. . . . Often whimsical and sometimes sad, they all shine with poetry and magic.

The Soul of Man Under Socialism and Selected Critical Prose

Oscar Wilde (and others)

Selection includes The Portrait of Mr W.H., Wilde's defence of Dorian Gray, reviews, and the writings from 'Intentions' (1891): 'The Decay of Lying, 'Pen, Pencil, Poison', and 'The Critic as Artist'.
Wilde is familiar to us as the ironic critic behind the social comedies, as the creator of the beautiful and doomed Dorian Gray, as the flamboyant aesthete and the demonised homosexual. This volume presents us with a different Wilde. Wilde emerges here as a deep and serious reader of literature and philosophy, and an eloquent and original thinker about society and art.

The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays

Oscar Wilde (and others)

Wilde was both a glittering wordsmith and a social outsider. His drama emerges out of these two perhaps contradictory identities, combining epigrammatic brilliance and shrewd social observation. Includes Lady Windermere's Fan, Salome, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband, A Florentine Tragedy and The Importance of Being Earnest, which appears in full with the "Grigsby" scene which originally made up the fourth act.

Biography

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin on 16 October 1854. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin and Magdalen College, Oxford. He later lived in London and married Constance Lloyd there in 1884. Wilde was a leader of the Aesthetic Movement. His only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was first published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890. He published a revised and expanded edition in 1891 in response to negative reviews which criticised the book’s immorality. Wilde became famous through of the immense success of his plays such as Lady Windemere's Fan (1892), An Ideal Husband (1895) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895).

In 1985, after a public scandal involving Wilde's relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, he was sentenced to two years' hard labour in Reading Gaol for 'gross indecency'. His poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol was based on his experiences in prison and was published in 1898. After his release, Wilde never lived in England again and died in Paris on 30 November 1900. He is buried in Père Lachaise cemetery.