Oscar Wilde Quotes on Writing: The Complete Collection

oscar wilde quotes on writing
by CJ McDaniel // March 1 // 0 Comments

When talking about literary wit and flamboyance, it’s impossible not to mention Oscar Wilde. He owes his great success to his exuberant personality, unconventional writing style, society comedies, and undoubtedly incredible works. His literary accomplishments may be dated way back to the late Victorian period. However, he remains one of the greatest literary icons today, influencing people through his works, Oscar Wilde quotes on writing, and more.

Born on the 16th of October 1854 in Dublin, Ireland, playwright, poet, and novelist Oscar Wilde emerged as a literary icon in late Victorian England. The public associates his name with many titles, including story writer, journalist, dramatist, epigrammist, essayist, and committed aesthete. Regarding his works, he captured the crowd’s interest with his only novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” and his plays, ” Lady Windermere’s Fan” and “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

Wilde is a literary figure whose fame rose through his writing skills and inherent drama in his life. The Irish writer wrote his work with wit and elegance, which helped make them look realistic. His artistic mastery in his plays, ability to convey his characters’ feelings and thoughts, and phenomenal wit were enough to leave a legacy for the future generation. Hence, even if he only produced one novel, his practical wisdom, especially Oscar Wilde quotes on writing, is sought-after.

Oscar Wilde Quotes About Writing

Oscar Wilde did not limit himself in writing novels. Contrary to popular belief, he wasn’t much of a novelist, having written only “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” However, his contribution and influence in the field of writing remain unmatched. He was a writer who extended his brilliance in producing poems, essays, plays, and even his memoir. Professional and budding writers look up to him for his effortless way of incorporating fantasy, realism, and portraying imagery in his writing. Hence, even his quotes on writing continue to be read and discussed.

Do you need inspiration in writing? Are you feeling stuck? Check out the collection of Oscar Wilde quotes on writing below.

The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.

Oscar Wilde

The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.

Oscar Wilde

She lives the poetry she cannot write.

Oscar Wilde

He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize

Oscar Wilde

Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.

Oscar Wilde

A writer is someone who has taught his mind to misbehave.

Oscar Wilde

A poet can survive everything but a misprint.

Oscar Wilde

Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

Oscar Wilde

In America the President reigns for four years, and Journalism governs forever and ever.

Oscar Wilde

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

Oscar Wilde

If you cannot write well, you cannot think well; if you cannot think well, others will do your thinking for you.

Oscar Wilde

I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.

Oscar Wilde

In old days books were written by men of letters and read by the public. Nowadays books are written by the public and read by nobody.

Oscar Wilde

Anybody can make history; only a great man can write it.

Oscar Wilde

I am too fond of reading books to care to write them.

Oscar Wilde

I don’t write this letter to put bitterness into your heart, but to pluck it out of mine. For my own sake I must forgive you.

Oscar Wilde

Good intentions are invariably ungrammatical.

Oscar Wilde

They are always asking a writer why he does not write like somebody else, or a painter why he does not paint like somebody else, quite oblivious of the fact that if either of them did anything of the kind he would cease to be an artist.

Oscar Wilde

He would stab his best friend for the sake of writing an epigraph on his tombstone.

Oscar Wilde

The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.

Oscar Wilde

Actions are the first tragedy in life, words are the second. Words are perhaps the worst. Words are merciless. . .

Oscar Wilde

Who am I to tamper with a masterpiece?

Oscar Wilde

Biography lends to death a new terror.

Oscar Wilde

It is personalities not principles that move the age.

Oscar Wilde

His style is chaos illumined by flashes of lightning. As a writer he has mastered everything except language.

Oscar Wilde

That is the mission of art – to make us pause and look at a thing a second time.

Oscar Wilde

I write because it gives me the greatest possible artistic pleasure to write. If my work pleases the few I am gratified. As for the mob, I have no desire to be a popular novelist. It is far too easy.

Oscar Wilde

Anybody can write a three-volume novel. It merely requires a complete ignorance of both life and literature.

Oscar Wilde

Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?

Oscar Wilde

The ancient historians gave us delightful fiction in the form of fact; the modern novelist presents us with dull facts under the guise of fiction.

Oscar Wilde

The only artists I have ever known who are personally delightful are bad artists. Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are. A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible. He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize.

Oscar Wilde

Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face. It cannot be concealed.

Oscar Wilde

From the point of view of literature Mr. Kipling is a genius who drops his aspirates. From the point of view of life, he is a reporter who knows vulgarity better than any one has ever known it.

Oscar Wilde

Every great man nowadays has his disciples, and it is usually Judas who writes the biography.

Oscar Wilde

Mr. Henry James writes fiction as if it were a painful duty.

Oscar Wilde

My writing has gone to bits – like my character. I am simply a self-conscious nerve in pain.

Oscar Wilde

Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face. It cannot be concealed. People talk sometimes of secret vices, there are no such things. If a wretched man has a vice, it shows itself in the lines of his mouth, the droop of his eyelids, the moulding of his hands even.

Oscar Wilde

There should be a law that no ordinary newspaper should be allowed to write about art. The harm they do by their foolish and random writing it would be impossible to overestimate–not to the artist but to the public…. Without them we would judge a man simply by his work; but at present the newspapers are trying hard to induce the public to judge a sculptor, for instance, never by his statues but by the way he treats his wife; a painter by the amount of his income and a poet by the colour of his necktie.

Oscar Wilde

“I wrote when I did not know life;
now that I do know the meaning of life,
I have no more to write.
Life cannot be written; life can only be lived.”

Oscar Wilde

I have put my talent into writing, my genius I have saved for living.

Oscar Wilde

George Moore wrote brilliant English until he discovered grammar.

Oscar Wilde

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

Oscar Wilde

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

Oscar Wilde

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Oscar Wilde

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

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde Quotes About Books

Before becoming an established writer, Wilde started as a bright and bookish child. He was born of literary and professional parents, with his school life contributing to his love for writing and literature. Hence, even if he only wrote and published one novel, his words of wisdom and quotes about books are something writers or readers can find valuable.

If you love reading or writing, these Oscar Wilde quotes about books are what you need.

If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.

Oscar Wilde

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

Oscar Wilde

With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?

Oscar Wilde

Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

Oscar Wilde

Books are never finished, They are merely abandoned.

Oscar Wilde

In old days books were written by men of letters and read by the public. Nowadays books are written by the public and read by nobody.

Oscar Wilde

I am too fond of reading books to care to write them.

Oscar Wilde

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written.

Oscar Wilde

Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

Oscar Wilde

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

Oscar Wilde

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

Oscar Wilde

I cannot choose one hundred best books because I have only written five

Oscar Wilde

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.

Oscar Wilde

All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.

Oscar Wilde

I never read a book I must review; it prejudices you so.

Oscar Wilde

A book or poem which has no pity in it had better not be written.

Oscar Wilde

At twilight, nature is not without loveliness, though perhaps its chief use is to illustrate quotations from the poets.

Oscar Wilde

The nineteenth century is a turning point in history, simply on account of the work of two men, Darwin and Renan, the one the critic of the Book of Nature, the other the critic of the books of God. Not to recognise this is to miss the meaning of one of the most important eras in the progress of the world.

Oscar Wilde

It is a pity to make a mystery out of what should most easily be understood. There is nothing occult about the thought that all things maybe made well or made ill. A work of art is a well-made thing – that is all. It may be a well-made statue of a well-made chair or a well-made book. Art is not a special sauce applied to ordinary cooking; it is the cooking itself that is good. Most simply and generally, Art may be thought of as “The Well Doing of What Needs Doing.”

Oscar Wilde

Cheap editions of great books may be delightful, but cheap editions of great men are absolutely detestable

Oscar Wilde

You and I will always be friends.” “Yet you poisoned me with a book once. I should not forgive that.

Oscar Wilde

Thin-lipped wisdom spoke at her from the worn chair, hinted at prudence, quoted from that book of cowardice whose author apes the name of common sense.

Oscar Wilde

The worst of it is that I am perpetually being punished for nothing; this governor loves to punish, and he punishes by taking my books away from me. It’s perfectly awful to let the mind grind itself away between the upper and nether millstones of regret and remorse without respite; with books my life would be livable — any life.

Oscar Wilde

Children have a natural antipathy to books- handicraft should be the basis of education. Boys and girls should be taught to use their hands to make something, and they would be less apt to destroy and be mischievous.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde Quotes About Work

Wilde wasn’t much of a novelist as most people assume he was during his time. He was always in need of money since his job has involved freelancing. By 1885, he landed a regular job as a reviewer and journalist, becoming the editor of The Lady’s World magazine in 1887. Wilde experienced how tough it is to find and work for a living: his success in writing was never enough to sustain his monetary needs.

Apart from his words on writing, if you’re looking for Oscar Wilde quotes about work, come and take a look at the list below!

I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works.

Oscar Wilde

Who am I to tamper with a masterpiece?

Oscar Wilde

Work is the curse of the drinking classes.

Oscar Wilde

No publisher should ever express an opinion on the value of what he publishes. That is a matter entirely for the literary critic to decide. I can quite understand how any ordinary critic would be strongly prejudiced against a work that was accompanied by a premature and unnecessary panegyric from the publisher. A publisher is simply a useful middle-man. It is not for him to anticipate the verdict of criticism.

Oscar Wilde

A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.

Oscar Wilde

I have always been of the opinion that hard work is simply the refuge of people who have nothing whatever to do.

Oscar Wilde

The best way to enjoy your job is to imagine yourself without one.

Oscar Wilde

When both a speaker and an audience are confused, the speech is profound.

Oscar Wilde

It is always with the best intentions that the worst work is done.

Oscar Wilde

Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing.

Oscar Wilde

Punctuality is the thief of time

Oscar Wilde

One must have some sort of occupation nowadays. If I hadn’t my debts I shouldn’t have anything to think about.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde Quotes About Literature

A committed aesthete, Oscar Wilde’s works display aestheticism at their finest. Witty yet elegant in style, they were intellectual and ornamental. However, his works lack human warmth. Still, his undeniable literary fame lasted up until now, his poems, essays, and plays becoming a favorite of many. His life story also contributed to him becoming an icon in literature—the inherent drama on his life playing a role in some of his writings.

The short collection below shows Oscar Wilde’s quotes about literature.

Ordinary people waited till life disclosed to them its secrets, but to the few, to the elect, the mysteries of life were revealed before the veil was drawn away. Sometimes this was the effect of art, and chiefly of the art of literature, which dealt immediately with the passions and the intellect.

Oscar Wilde

I hate vulgar realism in literature. The man who would call a spade a spade should be compelled to use one.

Oscar Wilde

The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!

Oscar Wilde

Literature always anticipates life. It doesn’t copy it but moulds it to it’s purpose.

Oscar Wilde

The best work in literature is always done by those who do not depend on it for their daily bread and the highest form of literature, Poetry, brings no wealth to the singer.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was a brilliant writer who wrote with excellence when at his best. Moreover, his poems, essays, plays, and one novel is quotable, so it’s no surprise why many writers worldwide would love to read his words. True enough, his legacy lies in his contribution to literature—the Oscar Wilde quotes on writing becoming a part of those.

Need more inspiration on writing other than these quotes of Oscar Wilde? Check out our collection of quotes on writing from other authors here.

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!