Oscar Wilde wrote "I don't defend my conduct, I explain it, " when he was imprisoned in Reading Gaol in 1895 for his violation of England's stringent laws against homosexuality. Wilde's notorious liaison with the Marquess of Queensberry's son, Lord Alfred Douglas ("Bosie"), had so inflamed the Marquess that he made public attacks on Wilde's character and morals. In return, Wilde sued for slander, an action which, to Wilde's bitter astonishment, led to a series of scandalous trials and convictions. From his cell in prison, Oscar Wilde wrote "De Profundis," the detailed and unsparing revelation of his love and tragedy.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) the Irish-born poet, dramatist, and novelist was celebrated for his wit and irreverence in the face of Victorian society. His works include The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest. Rupert Hart-Davis (1907-1999) is a renowned Wilde scholar and the editor of the definitive text The Letters of Oscar Wilde. W.H. Auden (1907-1973) is one of the major poets of the twentieth century. His famous essay on Wilde originally appeared in The New Yorker in 1963.