Oscar Wilde’s mother, Jane Francesca Agnes, AKA Lady Wilde who was born in Dublin in 1821. A poet and supporter of Irish nationalism, she had an interest in the role of fairy’s in Irish legend and culture and set about preserving those oral legends in a series of articles and books.
Lady Wilde wrote for the Young Ireland movement of the 1840s and for The Nation for which she wrote Pro-Irish, Anti imperialist articles under the name "Speranza". After one of her pieces called for armed revolt by the Irish people against the English, the British closed the paper down. The British shut down the paper and brought the editor to court where he refused to reveal who Speranza was and was jailed even though Lady Wilde stood up in court and claimed responsibility for the article.
She was a staunch advocate for public education (It didn’t exist in most parts of Ireland at the time) and for woman’s rights. William Wilde was knighted in January 1864, but several months later the Wilde’s were at the center of a sensational court case in which a woman claimed Sir William had seduced her. She also brought (and won) a case against Lady Wilde for libel.
In 1867, the Wilde’s daughter, Isola, died of fever at the age of nine. In 1871 the two illegitimate daughters of Sir William were burned to death in an accident and in 1876 Sir William himself died, virtually bankrupt.
She left Dublin for in 1879 to join her two sons and lived in grinding poverty, surviving on the meagre income from Oscar’s writing for fashionable magazines. She contracted bronchitisin January 1896 and, dying, asked for permission to see Oscar, who was in prison. Her request was denied. She died shortly afterwards. A headstone was too expensive and she was buried anonymously in common ground
My Country, wounded to the heart,
Could I but flash along thy soul Electric power to rive apart
The thunder-clouds that round thee roll, And, by my burning words,
uplift Thy life from out Death's icy drift,
Till the full splendours of our age Shone round thee for thy heritage--
As Miriam's, by the Red Sea strand Clashing proud cymbals, so my hand
Would strike thy harp,