Oscar Wilde was born in 1854 in Dublin, the son of a physician and writer; his mother wrote poems and was an authority on Celtic folklore. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and later at Magdalen College, Oxford. As a student, already an enthusiastic follower of Walter Pater, he began to lead a life completely shaped by aesthetic premises. Typical of this attitude is Pater's statement: 'To burn always with this hard, gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life.' In 1884, after a lecture tour in Canada and the United States, where he caused a sensation as a dandy who had 'nothing to declare but his genius ', Wilde married the daughter of a prominent Irish barrister. At the same time, the marriage marked the beginning of a peak creative period for him. During this time, in addition to his fairytale collections "The Happy Prince and Other Tales" (1888) and "A House of Pomegranates" (1892) and numerous poems and plays, he also wrote his novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1891), whose hero's life rises above all morality and ends in the morass of a sinful existence, anticipating the author's own fate. Wilde's most successful works, in his lifetime, were his plays.
Among them, "Salome" (1891) occupies a special place because of the congenial illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley. Wilde's homoerotic relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas caused him to be sued by the young man's father, resulting in a two-year prison sentence. A social pariah, he tried with little success to begin a new career as a writer in France after he had served his sentence. On 30 November 1900, he died, completely impoverished, in Paris. The two collections of fairy tales do not go back to folktales that have come down to us anonymously, but belong to the genre of 'literary fairy tales', which, as the creation of a particular writer, represent a separate literary genre with a long tradition that goes back to antiquity.