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'Salome' UoR Coll

Wilde's early career was dedicated to poetry and drama. His poems were widely criticised as derivative, and his early plays met a similar fate. The turgid melodramas, Vera and The Duchess of Padua, were seen as “preposterous” and “long-winded.”

But Wilde soon managed to fashion a career as a writer, with reviews, stories, and essays. The stories, many of them fairy tales, were gathered in The Happy Prince and A House of Pomegranates.
Potentially shocking homoerotic and decadent elements began to feature in Wilde's writing, especially in the novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. His play, Salomé, went into production in 1892 with Sarah Bernhardt in the title role, but the Lord Chamberlain refused to grant it a licence. It was considered blasphemous to depict Biblical characters in a play.

Wilde rescued his position with a series of popular professional drawing-room dramas with a satirical edge: Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, and An Ideal Husband, ending with a comic masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, which was first produced in 1895.

His popular and commercial triumph was brought to an abrupt end by his imprisonment. After his release he wrote the powerful Ballad of Reading Gaol, but essentially prison had killed his ambition and ended his career.

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