Where the Wilde Things Are

“This hideous wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes, or I do.”

I’d often heard of this iconic deathbed quote of writer/playwright Oscar Wilde, which he so wittily muttered — says the legend — moments before his flame was extinguished in a rundown Paris hotel.

The year was 1900, a time when being gay would ruin a man: one minute the toast of London’s West End, the next a monster locked in a cage, accused of “gross indecency” and crimes against nature. By the time he exiled himself to Paris he was broken, destitute, and estranged from his family.

The hotel still exists on a quiet side street at 13 rue des Beaux-Arts. It’s name is simply “L’Hotel”. It’s far from rundown today, and those wishing to sleep with Wilde’s ghost can rent the room where he died. It’s one of those mythic locations that Paris nerds and bookworms alike hope to one day see with their own…

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