Writers Graves

Chiswick – Foscolo

The Italian poet, Ugo Foscolo, lived in London for the last eleven years of his life. He died in Turnham Green, a suburb adjoining Chiswick, and was buried in the graveyard of St Nicholas, Chiswick – the same resting place as for William Hogarth (see previous blog).
In 1871, at the behest of the King of Italy, Foscolo’s remains were moved to Santa Croce in Florence.

Ugo Foscolo Grave

St Albans – Francis Bacon

The Bacon family had a country estate on the outskirts of St Albans, Hertfordshire. The Tudor era house there, built by the father of Francis Bacon and known as Gorhambury, is now a ruin. But there is a monument to Francis Bacon (see previous post) in the nearby church of St Michael.

St Michael’s is an interesting church, with a history going back to Anglo-Saxon times, as well as having a 12th century Norman window and 13th century Early English lancet windows.

Francis Bacon St Albans

London – St Olave Hart St

A City of London church that escaped the Great Fire of London in 1666, St Olave Hart St has quite a few literary connections. Anthony Bacon, the subject of a Daphne du Maurier’s biography (see previous blog post) was buried in the church in 1601. As Secretary of State for the Earl of Essex, Bacon’s duties included controlling a network of spies in Scotland, Spain and Italy.
Interestingly, Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth I’s spymaster, lived in a house next to the church. And du Maurier did a lot of detective work herself, to discover that St Olave was the final resting place of Anthony Bacon.

St Olave Hart Street

Oscar Wilde – Paris

Top of the list for places to visit on our upcoming trip to Paris is Pere Lachaise cemetery. In fact we are staying in a hotel nearby so we plan to visit the cemetery more than once. It is full of memorials to famous people like Chopin, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison of the Doors fame.

On a previous visit to Pere Lachaise we were impressed by the memorial placed over the grave of Oscar Wilde. It is a sculpture of a Sphinx by famous British sculptor, Jacob Epstein. Visitors to the gravesite were in the habit of leaving a lipstick imprint of a kiss on the Sphinx as can be seen on the photo below. In 2011 a glass barrier was erected to prevent the kisses.

Today is Oscar Wilde’s birthday and a good time to remember the amazing dramatist who gave the world such entertaining plays as “Lady Windermere’s Fan” and “The Importance of being Earnest”.

Oscar Wilde Tomb Paris

Ravenna – Dante

In 1319, Dante moved to the Adriatic seaside town of Ravenna, where he completed Paradiso, the final volume of the Divine Comedy.

In 1321, Dante travelled to Venice on an ambassadorial mission and returned to Ravenna seriously ill, possibly of malaria. In September he died and was buried in the church of San Francesco. But he didn’t rest in peace because over the subsequent centuries, his remains were moved several times.

In the 16th century Pope Leo X decided to move Dante’s remains to Florence, but the Franciscan monks in Ravenna had different ideas and hid his remains. Then in the 18th century his body was moved to a neo-classical tomb near San Francesco. During the Second World War there were concerns that Dante’s tomb might be damaged by bombing, so he was moved again. After the war he was re-installed in the tomb, where he remains to this day.

Dante Tomb Ravenna

Gustave Flaubert – Rouen 7

Flaubert died in 1880, aged 58, and was buried in his family’s plot at the cemetery in Rouen. His grave is marked with a relatively plain tombstone. It seems very appropriate that the cemetery is on a hill overlooking Rouen, with striking views across the rooftops and spires. Flaubert famously commented, “Madame Bovary, c’est moi” (Madame Bovary – that’s me) but as you look down on the town you realise that he could equally have said “Rouen, c’est moi”.

Flaubert Grave Rouen