Oscar Wilde was born today in 1854. Roger Ebert has a nice post up for the occasion, featuring one of the best appreciations of Wilde I've seen, this one by Stephen Fry:
Ebert also has the classic Monty Python sketch featuring Wilde and Shaw posted (head over to see it).
Wilde's later life was tragic, and the subject of many a biography, play or film itself. His own legacy is formidable. I had the pleasure of directing The Importance of Being Earnest several years back, and I've seen several productions on stage and screen. Wilde's other work is also worthwhile, but Earnest is his masterpiece. Although Wilde liked to pretend that he tossed off witty lines effortlessly – and he remains one of the greatest wits of all time – the truth is he worked hard at his craft, and revised Earnest and his other work extensively before showing it to the public. Not every actor can handle Wilde's language, but it's an absolute joy to hear it performed well.
Hat tip to Driouxbie.