Oscar Wilde was already famous as a brilliant wit and raconteur when he first began to publish his short stories in the late 1880s. They have never lacked readers and admirers, George Orwell and W.B. Yeats among them. The stories give free rein to Wilde's originality, literary skill, and sophistication. They include poignant fairy-tales such as "The Happy Prince" and "The Selfish Giant", and the extravagant comedy and social observation of "Lord Arthur Saville's Crime" and "The Canterville Ghost". They also encompass the daring narrative expriments of "The Portrait of Mr. W. H.", Wilde's fictional investigation into the identity of the dedicatee of Shakespeare's sonnets, and the "Poems in Prose", based on the Gospel stories.
This edition demonstrates the centrality of Wilde's shorter fiction in his literary career, and his continuing development of experimentation with the short story format. Combining myth, romance, and irony, Wilde's short stories enthral and challenge the reader.