Wilde on Wallpaper

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Nov 28 19:14:07 UTC 2005

Quoting Fred Shapiro <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>:

> I have the following in my quotation manuscript:
> Decidedly one of us will have to go.
>         Oscar Wilde, quoted in H. Montgomery Hyde, Oscar Wilde (1975). Wilde
> allegedly made this remark on his deathbed in reference to the wallpaper in
> his Paris hotel room.
> Can anyone trace this or a similar wording back further than 1975?  We are
> looking here presumably for a secondary source rather than a writing of
> Wilde's.

See _Cassell's Humorous Quotations_ (Nigel Rees, 2003):

"This wallpaper'll be the death of me -- one of us'll have to go."
Quoted in Sherard [R.H. Sherard, _Life of Oscar Wilde_ (1906)]. _Not_ said _in
extremis_. Another version is that Wilde said to Claire de Pratz: 'My wallpaper
and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go" -
reported in Guillot de Saix, 'Souvenirs in├ędits', also in Frank Harris, _Oscar
Wilde, His Life and Confessions_ (1930).


--Ben Zimmer

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