The Wilde Book

Quotes is something I do occasionally on this page, and no one seems to have mastered the epic one-liner quite like Oscar Wilde. A fop, a gentleman, and dubious in his sexuality, Oscar Wilde is one of the most quoted individuals in history. Full of wit, biting insight, and disarming charm, people flocked up to shake Oscar’s hand just to get insulted. Few, either then or now, could have stood toe-to-toe with the man, however, I personally think Dorothy Parker might’ve given him a run for his money. Wilde was a big believer in “art for art’s sake”, and lived far beyond his means until the very hour of his death, dying virtually penniless in 1900. Full of grace, full of style, Oscar Wilde is a beloved character, unforgettable, and, since I didn’t want my blog forever posting quotes by Wilde, I’ve decided to give him his own page, which I’m sure he would approve of. Here are some of my favorite Oscar Wilde quotes. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.


Shine on, you fabulously dressed diamond, shine on.

“Only my genius.”

Upon arrival in New York, Wilde told United States customs officials he had nothing to declare, except the above, of course.

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”

“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise, they’ll kill you.”

“A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.”

“Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace.”

“The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

Oscar_Wilde_with_cape_and_hat_by_Sarony_cph.3b16950“We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.”

“When people agree with me I always feel that I must be wrong.”

I suffer from a similar affliction!

“The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived.”

“One’s real life is often the life that one does not lead.”

“It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.”

“Experience is the name everyone gives to his mistakes.”

This is often repurposed as, “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”

“What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

“Children begin by loving their parents. After a time they judge them. Rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.”

“I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible.”

“To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.”

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made.”

Very similar to another of Oscar’s quotes, “Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or nation.”

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken”

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

“Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.”

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”

“To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual.”

“Society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals.”

“No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.”

“True friends stab you in the front.”

“Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.”

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”

Can you hear my eyes rolling? I couldn’t find any evidence anywhere that Oscar Wilde actually said this, however, I have no reason to believe the man didn’t. So I’m putting it on this list anyway.

“Illusion is the first of all pleasures.”

“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

Again, this is very similar to another Wilde quote, stating, “When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.”

“The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.”

“Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.”

“As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.”

“In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane.”

“Pessimist: One who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both.”

“America is the only country that went from barbarianism to decadence without civilization in between.”

Declared, at the end of a much-publicized lecture tour through the United States in 1882.


“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.”

“A poet can survive everything but a misprint.”

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”

“London is too full of fogs and serious people. Whether the fogs produce the serious people, or whether the serious people produce the fogs, I don’t know.”

“Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”

“I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.”

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”

“I suppose that I shall have to die beyond my means.”

Upon being told the cost of an operation.

“The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.”

“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.”

“This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes, or I do.”

Oscar’s last known words. It’s often tossed around that on his deathbed he declared, “Either these drapes go, or I do!” I found anything hard to verify concretely, however, his actual last words were likely a barely audible Catholic prayer. Let’s raise our glasses to Oscar; a life fully lived.


To find more quotes from a slew of insightful individuals, click here!