13 rue des Beaux-Arts
Get Directions →
“I am dying beyond my means”
→ Navigate & zoom by using your mouse/trackpad or arrow keys.
↨ Go Fullscreen by using the panorama’s upper right icon.
∆ Exit by clicking on the lower right X cross or the greyed out background.
1897 – Oscar Wilde is released from his sentence of hard labour.
Broke, his health declining but having found spirituality, he leaves England for northern France.
There, he writes The Ballad of Reading Gaol, a poem narrating the execution of a man who murdered his wife for her infidelity and addressing the issues of imprisonment and punishment.
Separated from his wife and sons, he meets Alfred Douglas during the summer against the advice of his friends – they live together until their respective families threatens to cut them off.
1898 – The Ballad of Reading Gaol is published anonymously in February. It is nonetheless well received and allows Wilde some income and praise, as many in the literary scene figured out he was the author.
He moves to Paris at the Hotel de Nice, then at the Hotel d’Alsace rue des Beaux-Arts where he checked in under a pseudonym: Sebastian Melmot and meets his faithful companion André Gide .
In May The Ballad is published in the Mercure de France and released as a book soon after.
Left with no fixed income after the death of his estranged wife Constance, he finds himself borrowing money to the few friends he still has.
Having lost the joy of writing, he is unable to write new material — however he corrects new revisions of his plays An Ideal Husband and The Importance Of Being Earnest that british publisher Leonard Smithers is about release.
1900 – He sells the scenario of a play written in 1894 to his close friend Frank Harris: co-written by the later with Alfred Armstrong, it would be known as Mr & Mrs Deventry.
The money he receives from it is ray of light: in a better shape he travels to Rome, where he passes his time flirting and visiting he Vatican, receiving the blessing of the unsuspecting Pope.
He returns to Paris in June for the Exposition Universelle, but his health quickly deteriorates.
Isolated and bed-ridden, only receiving the visit and support of a few friends, he dies on November 30.
Buried outside Paris in Cimetière de Bagneux then at the Père Lachaise Cemetary in 1909, his epitaph is a verse from The Ballad of Reading Gaol:
And alien tears will fill for him
Pity’s long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.
Stephen Fry played the Irish author in Wilde, released in 1997 and chronicling Wilde’s relationship with Douglas (Jude Law), from their first meeting to Oscar’s trials, imprisonment and release.
In 1985 Michael Gambon (“The Lost Prince”) played Wilde in “Oscar” for a three-part BBC series directed by Brian Gilbert and written by Julian Mitchell, who wrote a Van Gogh biopic in 1990.
Subscribe to the newsletter The Explorer:
Share this Adventure with your friends: