Oscar Wilde

From Morrissey-solo Wiki
Oscar Wilde
Morrissey surrounded by his Wilde collection (1984)


One of Morrissey's favourite books: "Complete Works" - via NME interview (1983):
Morrissey - "Portrait Of The Artist As A Consumer"
Morrissey chose the "Complete Works", again, as an island book on Desert Island Discs - BBC Radio 4 (2009)
In Autobiography, Morrissey states:

As the world’s first populist figure (first pop figure), Oscar Wilde exploded with original wisdom, advocating freedom for heart and soul, and for all – regardless of how the soul swirled. He laughed at the squeezers and the benders and those born only to tell others what to do. Tellingly, a disfigured barrister and a half-wit in a wig destroyed Wilde in the end, and in doing so one lordly barrister and one lordly judge deprived the world of further works from Oscar Wilde.

In the May 6, 1984 issue of Jamming! Magazine, Morrissey answers:

"So what makes you shout and jump and write and how close are The Smiths to real life?
Most of my inspiration does come from outside music - especially literature and particularly Oscar Wilde..."

From The Morrissey Collection - Smash Hits (June 21 - July 4, 1984):

"My mother, who's an assistant librarian, introduced me to his writing when I was 8. She insisted I read him and I immediately became obsessed. Every single line affected me in some way. I liked the simplicity of the way he wrote. There was a piece called The Nightingale And The Rose that appealed to me immensely then. It was about a nightingale who sacrificed herself for these two star-crossed lovers. It ends when the nightingale presses her heart against this rose because in a strange, mystical way it means that if she dies, then the two lovers can be together. This sense of truly high drama zipped through everything he wrote. He had a life that was really tragic and it's curious that he was so witty. Here we have a creature persistently creased in pain whose life was a total travesty. He married, rashly had two children and almost immediately embarked on a love affair with a man. He was sent to prison for this. It's a total disadvantage to care about Oscar Wilde, certainly when you come from a working class background. It's total self-destruction almost. My personal saving grace at school was that I was something of a model athlete. I'm sure if I hadn't been, I'd have been sacrificed in the first year. I got streams and streams of medals for running. As I blundered through my late teens, I was quite isolated and Oscar Wilde meant much more to me. In a way he became a companion. If that sounds pitiful, that was the way it was. I rarely left the house. I had no social life. Then, as I became a Smith, I used flowers because Oscar Wilde always used flowers. He once went to the Colorado salt mines and addressed a mass of miners there. He started the speech with, 'Let me tell you why we worship the daffodil'. Of course, he was stoned to death. But I really admired his bravery and the idea of being constantly attached to some form of plant. As I get older, the adoration increases. I'm never without him. It's almost biblical. It's like carrying your rosary around with you."

Miserable Lie appears to have taken the term "flower-like life" from Wilde's De Profundis:

"He was the first person who ever said to people that they should live ‘flower-like lives.’"

A caricature of Wilde by illustrator Chas Kendrick was used on the limited edition Interesting Drug etched vinyl & sleeve (taken from a pamphlet about Wilde). It would feature as a poster, advertising & t-shirt image surrounded by the words: "Interesting Morrissey" in 1989. The shirt was part of a promotional giveaway for the Interesting Drug release (Smash Hits magazine also gave some away as a competition prize). In 2022, a more colourful version of the shirt was sold via Mporium and at concerts.

Image used as a 2012 backdrop (source):

Image captioned with "Who Is Morrissey?" sold at 2012 concerts:

Image used as a 2021 backdrop during Irish Blood, English Heart (video source):

Pendant worn by Morrissey at concerts (2023):

Mentioned In

Discogs Information



Anglo-Irish playwright, novelist, poet, short story writer and Freemason, born 16 October 1854 in Dublin, Ireland and died 30 November 1900 in Paris, France. One of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day, known for his barbed and clever wit.

External Links

Wikipedia Information


Oscar Fingal O'Fflahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of the most popular playwrights in London in the early 1890s. He is best remembered for his epigrams and plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the circumstances of his criminal conviction for gross indecency for consensual homosexual acts in "one of the first celebrity trials", imprisonment, and early death from meningitis at the age of 46. Wilde's parents were Anglo-Irish intellectuals in Dublin. In his youth Wilde learned to speak fluent French and German. At university, he read Greats; he demonstrated himself to be an exceptional classicist, first at Trinity College Dublin, then at Magdalen College, Oxford. He became associated with the emerging philosophy of aestheticism, led by two of his tutors, Walter Pater and John Ruskin. After university, Wilde moved to London into fashionable cultural and social circles. As a spokesman for aestheticism, he tried his hand at various literary activities: he published a book of poems, lectured in the United States and Canada on the new "English Renaissance in Art" and interior decoration, and then returned to London where he worked prolifically as a journalist. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress and glittering conversational skill, Wilde became one of the best-known personalities of his day. At the turn of the 1890s he refined his ideas about the supremacy of art in a series of dialogues and essays, and incorporated themes of decadence, duplicity, and beauty into what would be his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). The opportunity to construct aesthetic details precisely, and combine them with larger social themes, drew Wilde to write drama. He wrote Salome (1891) in French while in Paris, but it was refused a licence for England due to an absolute prohibition on the portrayal of Biblical subjects on the English stage. Undiscouraged, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late-Victorian London. At the height of his fame and success, while The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) was still being performed in London, Wilde prosecuted the Marquess of Queensberry for criminal libel. The Marquess was the father of Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. The libel trial unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and trial for gross indecency with men. After two more trials he was convicted and sentenced to two years' hard labour, the maximum penalty, and was jailed from 1895 to 1897. During his last year in prison he wrote De Profundis (published posthumously in 1905), a long letter that discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. On his release, he left immediately for France, and never returned to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life.