Introduction

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Anglo-Irish playwright, poet and critic.  Wilde was a major critic in the Aesthetic Movement, both for his contemporaries and today for anyone interested in the ideas of the artistic avant-garde in the 1980s.  His learning was immense, acquired as a student of classics at Oxford University in the 1870s.  Travel also extended his cultural knowledge.  He returned from America with an enthusiasm for the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and from France with a love of Impressionist painting and Symbolist poetry.

Varty, Anne, 2002, in Wilde, Oscar,  De Profundis: the ballad of Reading Gaol & other writings, Wordsworth Classics, Ware, p.viii

'I treated Art as the supreme reality and life as a mere mode of fiction.'

(De Profoundis - Written by Wilde when in Reading Gaol