Paris cleans lipstick off Oscar Wilde grave

Thu Dec 1, 2011 11:41am EST
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By Anna Maria Jakubek

PARIS (Reuters) - For over a decade, Oscar Wilde fans have flocked to a famous Paris cemetery with lipstick in hand and left red and pink kiss marks all over the Irish writer's cream-colored grave.

But from this week onwards, with Wednesday marking the 111th anniversary of the Dublin playwright's death, Wilde enthusiasts will have to contend with paying their tributes through a glass screen at arm's length from the tomb.

The new-look grave was unveiled after a renovation that left it scrubbed clean and surrounded by a glass enclosure to preclude future visitors from degrading the stone.

"If they'd kissed it simply without lipstick, we wouldn't have had to do this," Wilde's grandson Merlin Holland told reporters after the unveiling ceremony at the Pere Lachaise cemetery, whose other famous inhabitants include Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust and Jim Morrison.

Actor Rupert Everett, guest of honor at the ceremony, and due to portray the late writer in an upcoming film, said he thought that even though Wilde would have loved the attention lavished on his grave, he thought he would have been uncomfortable at the lipstick graffiti defacing it.

"I think he'd be thrilled that he was still attracting so much attention. I don't think he would like graffiti very much because he loved perfect clothes, perfect houses," Everett, star of the film "My Best Friend's Wedding," told Reuters.

"I think he'd like his statue to be clean and beautiful."

Wilde, best known for the farcical play "The Importance of Being Earnest" and the novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray," was born in Dublin but living in London when he was tried for homosexuality. Convicted, he spent two years in prison, after which he left for France, where he died destitute in Paris.   Continued...