Authors and their Epitaphs

Ever since I saw Niccolo Machiavelli’s epitaph in early 2013,I’ve been planning on writing a post about the most beautiful engravings on the tombs of some of the greatest literary figures.The tragic ending of some of these authors’ lives,I reckon,make these epigraphs all the more grand and poignant.

Virginia Woolf

Death is the enemy.Against you I will fling myself,unvanquished and unyielding o Death.The waves broke on the shore.

So much sadness and grandeur in this epitaph.

Oscar Wilde

Alien Tears Will Fill For Him
Pity’s Long-Broken Ern,
For His Mourners Will Be Outcast Men,
And Outcasts Always Mourn.

These lines come from Wilde’s poem ‘Ballad of Reading Gaol’.This epitaph is terribly sad ,for it is an immortal reminder of how so great a man like Wilde died like an absolute nobody.Interestingly people try to hold true to the epitaph,as there are always bizarre throngs next to the tomb and,as you might see in the picture,it is covered with lipstick kisses.It is a sight that will undoubtedly horrify those who are in charge of the tomb,but that would have made Wilde smile.The unorthodox man with the unorthodox grave. 🙂

Boatswain,Lord Byron’s Dog

Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices

Is there a better way to pay tribute to a loyal companion? Contrary to popular belief,the poem on Boatwain’s tomb was not written by Lord Byron,but rather by his friend John Hobhouse. Still,this little fact doesn’t in the least detract any beauty from this homage.

Niccolo Machiavelli


Look at this monument….and to think that this was created in 1527! The epitaph,according to Wikipedia,means : ”so great a name (has) no adequate praise” or   “no eulogy (would be appropriate to) such a great name”.

Mark Twain

Death is the Starlit Strip
Between the Companionship of
Yesterday and the Reunion of


Tennessee Williams

The Violets in the Mountains Have Broken the Rocks.

Tennessee Williams was a broken soul,as many failed to accept him as he was.It thus seems fitting that his epitaph speaks about the power of human feelings.This quote speaks volume and reminds me of a favourite of mine,from Charles Baudelaire: ‘The cry of our feelings is absurd; but it is sublime because it is absurd.’


11 thoughts on “Authors and their Epitaphs”

  1. I really like the dog’s epitaph the best. Any human would be honored to have that on their grave stone. I personally enjoy reading the dedications to books. Recently, I read the Edgar Allan Poe’s obituary: “By the public of the day he is regarded rather with curiosity than with admiration. Many will be startled, but few will be grieved by the news. He had very few friends, and he was the friend of very few—if any.” Gosh. I hope no one says that about me when I die! Herman Melville’s in The New York Times was only one or two lines long. Months later, a longer obituary was written whereby the writer explained why Melville’s obituary had been so short. He was no longer as popular as he used to be. Melville died in obscurity.

    1. That is sad indeed.
      I think it is terrible that such people as Mozart,Wilde and many others – people we’re not sure will be again in this world – died in such obscurity.
      Even when Tolstoy,arguably the greatest author of all time died,peasants lined up to his funeral only because they knew that ”some nobleman has died” ; they had no idea who Tolstoy was…..

      Well thankfully we have their books,which are lasting tokens of their genius and soul. I’m sure they must be happy to see that their novels have endured decades and even a century! 🙂

      Oh,true the dog’s epitaph is superb.As a dog lover,I find it perfect for any dog of any breed.Dogs are such selfless animals with so much unconditional love…

  2. That epitaph for Byron’s dog is just wonderful.

    I wonder how that kissing the tomb tradition got started. 😕 I probably don’t want to know.

    1. Oh,yeah,the dog’s epitaph is indeed wonderful!
      Actually his tomb is bigger than Lord Byron’s itself! Haha.

      And funnily enough,I have no idea how this tradition started!! Maybe it all started with a drunk girl and then the others followed suit! Ha,we’ll never know!

    1. I’m glad you found it interesting! 🙂
      I wanted to write this post for quite a while,but was somehow unsure how people will react to it!

      Epitaphs,or how authors remain inspiring souls even long after their deaths…

    1. While looking for epitaphs,I obviously stumbled upon this one from Yeats.
      I wanted to include it,but in the end didn’t,deeming it too ‘known’.
      And yes,I’m like you; I really like the epitaph of Tennessee Williams.A very powerful line that I’m sure I’ll never forget.

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