Sealed With A Kiss: Oscar Wilde’s Tomb

Oscar Wilde was a widely renowned Victorian Era playwright who also wrote the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.

oscar wilde paris france
PHOTO AMANDA PURCELL

He lived a fascinating life and was even imprisoned for two years for indecency. He spent the end of his life in Paris, France before he died at the age of forty-six. Oscar Wilde was buried in La Pére Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and his tomb stands as one of the most interesting and unique graves in the entire cemetery.

I visited La Pére Lachaise Cemetery a few years ago with an understanding, that besides the beautiful grounds which the grave site yields, a massive amount of famous and historical figures are buried there. I was strolling through the entirely peaceful and huge cemetery, casually looking at the ornate tombs and crypts, when I saw the most spectacular, yet peculiar site.

paris france oscar wilde
PHOTO AMANDA PURCELL

I had already passed some of the graves of famous figures including Chopin and Proust, but none of them compared to Oscar Wilde’s magnificent resting place. His tomb reached into the sky and contained a statue of a man with wings on his back preparing to fly. This was, however, by far not the most striking aspect of his grave. Colorful shades of pink, violent, red, and fuchsia pressed upon the tomb in glorious lip stick kissed stains. Lip stains in all colors were scattered in various angels upon the tomb and at the time, I did not understand why.

As I moved in more closely to inspect this grand curiosity, I saw a woman take a particularly bright magenta lipstick out of her purse. She proceeded to dote her lips with the color, bend down onto her knee, and boldly kiss the grave. As I stood in shock, another women adorned in bright lipstick kissed a different spot on his tomb. Oscar Wilde’s tomb was notorious for women and Oscar Wilde admirer’s alike to flock from all over the world to kiss his grave. There were also notes thrown along the bottom of his tomb. Sure it was a strange tradition to witness and sure it might seem unsanitary or bizarre to pay respects to someone who has died in that manner, but there was also something completely intriguing and grand about watching those women kiss his grave.

oscar wilde paris france
PHOTO AMANDA PURCELL

Unfortunately, these kisses cannot happen anymore. The lipstick stains ironically were reportedly causing irreparable damage to Wilde’s tomb so on the 111th anniversary of his death, cemetery officials placed a glass barrier around his tomb. His monument was cleaned from all of the lipstick-greased stains. That doesn’t mean that the legacy of his tomb will be forgotten. I certainly will not forget the thousands of lipstick offerings on his tomb or the women who I amazingly watched kiss his grave with elegance and confidence. As far as my own experience goes, I don’t kiss and tell.

oscar wilde paris france
PHOTO AMANDA PURCELL

Amanda Purcell

Amanda has traveled throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Her secret travel tip: visit places during off season. She loves walking around cities that she's never been to before, especially if she can't speak the local language.

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