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Death of Oscar Wilde

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On 30 November, 1900, Wilde died of a disease. He had Cerebral Meningitis. There have been various speculations about the reason behind his having meningitis.

Wilde’s physicians reported that the condition was due to an old suppuration of the right ear & did not allude to syphilis. While his grandson thought it to be due to a surgical intervention, a mastoidectomy, on the other hand Richard Ellmann claimed it to be syphilitic.

Since he was pursuing his higher secondary education, Wilde had a deep interest in Catholicism. He even wanted to convert himself into a Catholic, but was denied. For the purpose, he had even met Pope Pius IX in 1877. During his stay at prison, Wilde used to read the works of Saint Augustine, Dante & Cardinal Newman.

Finally, when Wilde was on his deathbe d, the Roman Catholic Church accepted him. He was conscious of his surroundings & even then had that urge in him to get converted into a Catholic. Father Cuthbert Dunne came to his support & administered his Baptism & Extreme Unction. But Wilde could not take the Eucharist.

Initially, Wilde was buried in the Cietiere de Baneux graveyard situated outside Paris. But later in 1909, his remains were shifted to Pere Lachaise Cemetery situated within the city.

On Robert Ross’s insistence, Wilde’s tomb was designed by Sir Jacob Epstein. Ross also commissioned him to make a small compartment within the tomb so that after his death his own ashes can be placed within the compartment.

His ashes were transferred in 1950. There was a modernist angel depicted as a relief on the tomb which was originally complete with male genitalia which were broken off by a tourist.

The genitalia was later used as a paperweight by cemetery keepers, though their current whereabouts are unknown. In the year 2000, Leon Johnson installed silver prosthesis as a replacement to the old ones.

The epitaph on the tomb is a verse from Wilde’s creation, The Ballad Of Reading Gaol. The verse says, “And alien tears will fill for him, Pity’s long-broken urn, For his mourners will be outcast men, And outcasts always mourn.”

By FW Editor

Tags: 1900, writer, cerebral meningitis

Category: Others  - ( Others Archive)

Date Added: 12 April '10

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