The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde. It premiered on 14 February 1895 at the St. James's Theatre in London.
Set in late Victorian England in 1895, the play's humour derives in part from characters maintaining fictitious identities to escape unwelcome social obligations. It is replete with witty dialogue and satirises some of the foibles and hypocrisy of late Victorian society. It has proved Wilde's most enduringly popular play.
The successful opening night of this play marked the climax of Wilde's career but also heralded his impending downfall. The Marquess of Queensberry, father of Wilde's lover Lord Alfred Douglas, attempted to enter the theatre, intending to throw vegetables at the playwright when he took his bow at the end of the show. Wilde was tipped off and Queensberry was refused admission. Nonetheless, Queensberry's hostility to Wilde was soon to trigger the latter's legal travails and eventual imprisonment. Wilde's notoriety caused the play, despite its success, to be closed after only 83 performances. He never wrote another play.
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