That Wallpaper


On graduating from the Sorbonne, London-born journalist Claire de Pratz, née Zoe Clara Solange Cadiot, worked as an English teacher before becoming a correspondent with both Le Petit Parisien and the Daily News. During her lifetime, she wrote several well received novels and non-fiction books.

In July 1889, when she was aged just seventeen, de Pratz wrote an article, ‘Pierre Loti and His Works’, for The Woman’s World, a magazine that was edited by Oscar Wilde at the time. When she met Wilde in Paris towards the end of his life, she reminded him that he was her first editor and they struck up a friendship.Wilde christened her ‘the good goddess’or ‘la bonne déesse’.

An interview de Pratz gave to Léon Guillot de Saix in L’Européen on 8 May 1929, and her memoir France from Within,  give fascinating insights into the final months of Wilde’s life. In these, de Pratz reports that Wilde often spoke of his mother but never of his trials and imprisonment. Clearly devastated by the consequences of his conviction, he asked her: ‘Is there on earth a crime so terrible that in punishment of it a father can be prevented from seeing his children?’

It was to Claire de Pratz that Wilde said of the wallpaper in his room at the Hotel d’Alsace – chocolate flowers on a blue background – ‘my wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other has to go’. Unfortunately, it was to be him. Oscar Wilde died one month later, on 30 November 1900. Although he was just 46, he had outlived his father and mother, his sister and brother, and his wife.

Claire de Pratz is one of the remarkable women in my book Wilde’s Women, read more here.



L’Européen8 Mai 1929, ‘Souvenirs Inedits’ reeferenced in Témoignages d’époque,  Claire de Pratz, Rue de Beaux Arts, Numéro 37 : Mars/Avril 2011 accessed on 2 March 2015




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