Lady Wilde was born Jane Francesca Elgee in Dublin in 1821. During her life, she was a staunch Irish nationalist, and began publishing poetry during the 1840s in The Nation, under the pseudonym ‘Speranza’. Much of her work was Pro-Irish and anti-British; when she wrote commentary calling for armed revolution in Ireland, the British authorities at Dublin Castle shut down the paper.
In 1854, she gave birth to her son, Oscar Wilde, who went on become one of the best-known authors of the nineteenth century penning The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890).
In later life, she supplemented her income by writing for fashionable magazines and collecting and publishing Irish fairy tales. She used her interest in herbal remedies to write Folk Medicine, Plant Lore, and Healing Plants (1887), an indispensable herbalist guide that blends herbal folklore, ancient plant knowledge, and natural wisdom.
Lady Wilde contracted bronchitis in January of 1896 and, dying, asked for permission to see Oscar, who was in prison on charges of “gross indecency with other men.” Her request was refused. She died at her home a month later, aged 74.