LADY JANE WILDE
Nationalist, linguist, poet & mother of Oscar
Wexford / Dublin / London
1821 – 1896
Why oh why was Oscar Wilde so wonderful? Rumour has it his mother was quite the inspiration.
Under her pseudonym Speranza, Lady Jane penned poems for The Nation, expressing her pro-Irish independence and anti-British views. Charles Gavan Duffy was the editor when "Speranza" wrote a controversial piece calling for armed revolution in Ireland. The authorities at Dublin Castle shut down the paper and brought the editor to court. Duffy refused to name who had written the offending article but "Speranza" stood up in court and claimed responsibility for the article, becoming a national heroine overnight.
In 1851 she married Sir William Wilde and they had three children: William, Oscar and Isola. Every week she held a salon for artists, scientists, and intellectuals at the family home in Merrion Square, gaining a reputation as the best hostess in the city. Jane could also speak six languages: English, German, French, Danish, Italian and Swedish. She was an early advocate of women's rights, and campaigned for better education for women.
Her dying wish was to see her son Oscar who was in prison at the time. Her request was refused and as the story goes, her ‘fetch’ appeared in Oscar’s prison cell the moment she died.