Oscar Wilde (16th October to 30th November 1900)

Here I am in Chelsea outside the former home of playwright, novelist, wit and essayist Oscar Wilde’s. He moved here having left behind disappointment in Dublin; his childhood sweetheart Florence Balcombe became engaged to (and later married) Bram Stoker, author of Dracula. He enquired about teaching jobs at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.  With the last of his inheritance from the sale of his father's houses he moved here to Tite Street. He ended up marrying Constance and they lived here with their two sons for eleven years.

 

What is now a ground-floor bedroom in a one-bedroom flat was once Oscar’s library where he wrote some of his seminal works including The Picture of Dorian Gray, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest.

 

This was once home to London's bohemian quarter and neighbours once included the painters John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler. Oscar moved out of this house after his disastrous court case in 1895 when he was found guilty of buggery. The Marquis of Queensberry accused Oscar of homosexual proclivities due to his affair with her son Lord Douglas. Oscar was sentenced to hard labour (mostly walking on a treadmill) at Reading Gaol and Constance changed her name and that of their two sons.

 

He died of meningitis on Friday 30th November 1900 aged just 46 in L’Hotel in Paris (now a five-star boutique hotel.) What caused the meningitis is unknown but it’s thought it came from syphilis from a prostitute from Oscar’s days at a student at Oxford University or an infection from mastoidectomy - a surgical operation to remove diseased cells from skull (possibly due to being attacked in prison.)

 

Firstly Oscar was buried in the CimetiPre de Bagneux outside Paris but nine years later he was moved to PPre Lachaise Cemetery, still inside the city. For over a century he received more kisses than he ever did in his lifetime. The tomb was covered with kisses from thousands of visitors which it still receives today. In 2011 the tomb was cleaned up and a glass barrier was installed to prevent further lipstick marks.

 

The flats in now in what was the Wilde home now sell for approximately £1.1 million each.

 

 

 

How things change…

 

Painters John Singer Sargeant and James Whistler live on this street…

 

Room 16 at L’Hotel in Paris where Oscar died…

 

Where Oscar is buried in Paris. Covered with kisses…