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Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde was born on October 16, 1854. He became a famous writer whose tragic end cut short his career on November 30, 1900. He was a large man and larger then life. He is remembered today more for his imprisonment for homosexuality then his writings. He was a brilliant writer whose works are still in print. The Picture of Dorian Gray is perhaps his best-known work. While the book was very dark his plays were lighter and loved by English audiences. His many quotes are still used today. I use them in my signature lines all the time. Some of his better-known quotes are:

·    Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.
·    No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.
·    I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his abilities.
·    No woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating.
·    Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.
·    Moderation is a fatal thing … nothing succeeds like excess.
·    I can believe anything provided it is incredible.
·    Punctuality is the thief of time.
·    A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
·    A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.
·    A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.
·    A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.
·    All that I desire to point out is the general principle that life imitates art far more than art imitates life.
·    By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.
·    I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.
·    I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
·    I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.
·    It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.
·    It is through art, and through art only, that we can realize our perfection.
·    Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.
·    Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.
·    Man can believe the impossible, but man can never believe the improbable.
·    Nothing is so aggravating than calmness.
·    Pessimist: One who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both.
·    The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.
·    The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
·    The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it... I can resist everything but temptation.
·    The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.
·    The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.
·    The world is divided into two classes, those who believe the incredible, and those who do the improbable.
·    Those whom the gods love grow young.
·    We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
·    When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers.

When I first saw one of the Oscar Wilde mysteries in the bookstore I was cautious about buying it because rarely do mysteries staring real life people come up to the reality of the person. I went ahead and got the book and was surprised at how well the writer Gyles Brandreth seemed to capture what Oscar Wilde must have been like in real life. It turns out he is a friend of Oscar Wilde’s grandson Merlin Holland. Merlin proofreads the books and sends him corrections. He also had a professor who knew Oscar Wilde. He has immersed himself in writings of Oscar Wilde and cultivated friendships with people who could help make his portrayal of the character as realistic as possible. This care and obvious love of the character makes this series different then many of the other mysteries featuring real people as detectives. Brandreth uses two real writers who knew Oscar Wilde as narrators Robert Sherard and Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherard wrote extensively about his friend. Conan Doyle and Wilde met at the beginnings of their careers. Bram Stoker also appears frequently in the books. He was a real life friend of Wilde and married Wilde’s first love. There are five books in the series so far and more planned. The books can be read in any order. I have listed them in the order they were written.

Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance takes place in 1889 when Wilde had just met Conan Doyle. That day he had also discovered the body of a young man named Billy Wood. When he talks his friends into going back to the house the next day the body has disappeared. Conan Doyle convinces him to finally go to the police and his friend Aidan Fraser. When the police don’t seem inclined to pursue the death Wilde persuades his friends to help him look into it. Billy Wood was just a young male prostitute and no one else feels that justice needs to be done. The fact that well-known names may be implicated makes the cover up important to higher-ups. The book has a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming.

Oscar Wilde and a Game Called Murder takes place in 1892. At a dinner party Oscar has a game where the people seated around the table put the name of a person they would most like to kill in a bag. The names are pulled out and read aloud. When the next day the first name called out is found dead and then the next day the second name is dead the game becomes very disturbing. This is one of the most intriguing books in the series.

Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man’s Smile begins in 1881 and starts in America where Wilde gave a series of lectures all over the country. There he meets a French actor named Edmond La Grange and his family. He agrees to come to Paris and help him with a translation of Hamlet. Oscar Wilde actually was a close friend of Sarah Bernhardt who features prominently in the story. The death of a young black dresser that Wilde had convinced to come to France leads him and Robert Sherard to investigate. More deaths follow. If you have ever been involved in theater I would highly recommend this book.

Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders in spite of its lurid title is a fascinating look into the late Victorian era. After a party attended by Wilde and the Prince of Wales the Duchess of Albemarle is found murdered. One of the people Wilde meets at the party Rex LaSalle claims to be a vampire. The Prince calls Wilde, Conan Doyle and Sherard to a secret meeting and asks him to discretely investigate the murder. When a second copycat murder occurs with the victim again being a “special” friend of the Prince things become even more desperate for him. He can’t afford any more scandals.  

Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders is the book that got me started reading these mysteries. Conan Doyle is in Germany trying to get away from everything and get caught up on the correspondence his publisher gives him addressed to Sherlock Holmes. Oscar Wilde offers to help. One of the packages they open up has a mummified hand in it. They find a second package with a finger and a ring and a third with what looks like a lock of hair. All have been sent from Rome. Wilde decides that they have to investigate. There is a lot of intrigue in this story and I found it very interesting.

I found the stories to be well written. Oscar Wilde comes across the way he must have in life as larger then life and fascinating. It is a series I will continue to read.

As a bonus, I am throwing in the code for the divider doodle (really, that is its name).

Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule

DAY TIME (EST/EDT) Series Name Editor(s)
SUN 6:00 PM Young Reader's Pavilion The Book Bear
Sun 9:30 PM SciFi/Fantasy Book Club quarkstomper
Bi-Monthly Sun Midnight Reading Ramblings don mikulecky
MON 8:00 PM Monday Murder Mystery Susan from 29
Mon 11:00 PM My Favorite Books/Authors edrie, MichiganChet
TUES 5:00 PM Indigo Kalliope: Poems from the Left bigjacbigjacbigjac
alternate Tuesdays 8:00 AM LGBT Literature Texdude50, Dave in Northridge
Tue 8:00 PM Contemporary Fiction Views Brecht, bookgirl
WED 7:30 AM WAYR? plf515
Wed 8:00 PM Bookflurries Bookchat cfk
THU 8:00 PM Write On! SensibleShoes
Thu (first each month) 11:00 AM Monthly Bookpost AdmiralNaismith
Thu (third each month - on hiatus) 11:00 PM Audiobooks Club SoCaliana
FRI 8:00 AM Books That Changed My Life Diana in NoVa
SAT (fourth each month) 11:00 AM Windy City Bookworm Chitown Kev
Sat 4:00 PM Daily Kos Political Book Club Freshly Squeezed Cynic
Sat 9:00 PM Books So Bad They're Good Ellid

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