The Funeral of Oscar Wilde 3 December 1900

Oscar Wilde was buried at Bagneux cemetery at 9am on 3 December 1900. His funeral mass was read by Fr. Cuthbert Dunne at the church of Saint-Germain-des- Prés in the presence of fifty-six people, among them ‘five ladies in deep mourning’.

Image result for deep mourning 1900

Robbie Ross identified four of these women*: American journalist, novelist, poet and singer Anna de Brémont and her maid; Mme Stuart Merrill, wife of the American symbolist poet who had raised a petition for Oscar’s release; and ‘an old servant girl of Oscar Wilde’s wife’. Richard Ellmann identified the fifth as a Miriam Aldrich, although Horst Schroeder disputes this (the woman was Mildred Aldrich – see update below).** At the head of Oscar’s coffin, Ross placed a wreath of laurels inscribed

‘A tribute to his literary achievements and distinction’

It bore the names of

‘those who had shown kindness to him during or after his imprisonment’

among them Ada Leverson and Adela Schuster. Lord Alfred Douglas interrupted a shooting holiday in Scotland to turn up as chief mourner. According to Wilde’s biographer Richard Ellmann there was an ‘unpleasant scene’ at the graveside  that he speculates may have been ‘some jockeying for the role of principal mourner’. He writes that while Wilde’s coffin was being lowered, Douglas almost fell into the grave.

Wilde’s remains were transferred to Père Lachaise in July 1909.



I am indebted to Simon Phillips (see his comment below) for clarifying that Mildred Aldrich was the fifth veiled woman in attendance. She wrote about her encounters with Wilde in ‘The burial of a fallen poet,’ an excerpt from her autobiographical Confessions of a Breadwinner. You can read a profile of Aldrich and an excerpt by following this link or for more information follow the link that Simon has provided below.


Wilde’s Women


*From ‘Robert Ross Gives a New Version of the Last Days of Oscar Wilde’, New York Times, 13 March 1910. Also, Anna de Brémont confirms her presence in Oscar Wilde and his Mother.

**Horst Schroeder, Additions and corrections to Richard Ellmann’s Oscar Wilde (Braunschweig Selbstverl, 2002), p.216



Filed under Essay

3 responses to “The Funeral of Oscar Wilde 3 December 1900

  1. Simon Phillips

    Mildred Aldrich, not Miriam Aldrich. See page 214 of this volume of her autobiography for more details.

  2. terence phelps

    I read in a newspaper many years ago that as Wilde’s coffin was being lowered into the grave, it slipped the ropes, crashed to the bottom, and Wilde’s body fell out, leaving his face half-twisted into the mud, much to the horror of those present.

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