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Oscar Wilde tomb in Paris to be protected from kissing fans

November 29, 2011 | 11:47 am

Wilde2

The Oscar Wilde tomb at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris has traditionally been covered in lip marks left by adoring fans of the famous playwright and wit. Starting this week, visitors will no longer be allowed to kiss the tomb thanks to a restoration project on the popular tourist attraction.

Wilde's restored tomb will be unveiled Wednesday, with the addition of a new glass barrier that "will surround it to prevent the kissers from causing further damage," according to a report in the Guardian. The project was paid for in part by the office of public works in Dublin, Ireland.

Wilde was born in Ireland but spent much of his career in England and in France. He is the author of the plays "The Importance of Being Earnest," "An Ideal Husband," "Salome" and "Lady Windermere's Fan." The writer died in 1900 in Paris at the age of 46, virtually broke.

The tradition of kissing Wilde's tomb started relatively recently, in the late 1990s, according to the Guardian. Since then, visitors have left adoring messages and graffiti on the stone work. Wilde's grandson, Merlin Holland, told the British newspaper that the lipstick had become a "serious problem" because the grease is absorbed into the stone. "Every cleaning was causing a bit more stone to wear away," he said.

Père Lachaise contains the final resting places of many famous politicians and cultural figures, including the playwright Molière, actor Yves Montand, composers Georges Bizet and Frédéric Chopin, and rocker Jim Morrison.

The act of leaving kiss marks on tombs is not unique to Wilde. In L.A., the final resting place of Marilyn Monroe at the Westwood Village Memorial Park is often covered in lip marks left by the actress' fans.

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-- David Ng

Photo: Oscar Wilde's tomb at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Credit: Cimitière de Père Lachaise

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