Importance of Being Ernest Oscar Wilde
The world has seen many talented literary writers. One of the more famous appeared in the late 19th century. Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland on October 16, 1854. His life produced award-winning poetry and highly acclaimed plays. Although he had a troubled childhood, Wilde gained large popularity for his outlandish wit and compelling personality. Despite his overwhelming public appeal as a playwright, Oscar Wilde ultimately died a sad and lonely death.
Oscar Wilde grew up in small house in Dublin, Ireland. His father was a well-known eye surgeon, and his mother was a poet a writer. On February 14—St. Valentine’s Day–1895, London was choked with a major snow storm. But this could not prevent the opening night of The Importance of Being Earnest, at the St. James’s Theatre, from being a major social event. This was in part due to the stunning popularity of Oscar Wilde in the theatre: The Importance of Being Earnest was Wilde’s fourth popular West End play in only three years, and An Ideal Husband had only opened a month before and was still playing to packed house at the Haymarket Theatre a few blocks away. Fashionable London was out in force, in their most elegant clothes. As a tribute to Wilde’s dandified aestheticism, women wore sprays of lilies as corsages; and many young men wore lilies of the valley in the buttonholes of lapels of their tailcoats. Wilde spent most of the performance backstage, but he was nevertheless dressed in what one biography called “the depth of fashion”: “his coat had a black velvet collar; he carried white gloves; a green scarab ring adorned one of his fingers; a large bunch of seals on a black moir ribbon watch chain hung from his white waistcoat; and, like the young men in the stalls, he wore lilies of the valley in his buttonhole.”
Audiences came dressed in evening formal to opening nights then; in fact, you had to wear evening formal dress any night if you wanted to sit in the stalls (what we call the orchestra) or the dress circle (the first balcony). And this was true not only at the St. James’s Theatre but throughout “Theatreland,” the entertainment district in the West End of metropolitan London.