Oscar Wilde (Selected Works)

A Bit About Victorian England

Wilde was around in the late 1800s, often termed the “Victorian Era”, or at least the end thereof.

From Century Readings in English Literature, (which completely ignored Wilde, btw):

The term ‘Victorian’ was often used in the first quarter of the twentieth century as an adjective of depreciation to signify anything out of fashion and therefore to be despised. As a matter of fact, the period is characterized by a steady and rapid growth on fundamental questions of politics, economics, natural science, ethics, and religious belief. Its weakest points were prudery as to matters of sex and intolerance of points of view diverging from the established conventions. At the beginning of the period the power of ‘Mrs. Grundy,’ resting upon middle class prejudice, and supported by the all-pervading influence of the squire and the parson, was supreme, and writers like Thackeray groaned over the conventional and sometimes hypocritical restrictions by which their artistic freedom was curtailed; but at the end of the period, with the admission of women to higher education and the learned professions, even more perhaps their use of the bicycle and the tennis racket, conventional restriction had already started on its way to the growing laxity of the twentieth century.