One of the greatest writers of all times, or at least one of the most influential is the great bard, William Shakespeare. His grave site, located at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Stratsford, Warwickshire, United Kingdom, includes a gravestone with this epitaph (supposedly written by Shakespeare himself):
Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare,
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones
|Church of the Holy Trinity where William Shakespeare was buried in 1616.|
The gravestone of F. Scott Fitzgerald (author of The Great Gatsby that we read last year) could be easily missed if you didn't know to look for it. Buried in St. Mary's Church in Rockville, Maryland, Fitzgerald's grave is etched with the last words from his book:
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
|The grave of F. Scott Fitgerald|
Strangely, Fitzgerald and his wife are not even from Maryland, but if you notice on his gravestone, his full name is Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald. Does that ring any bells? Yep, you guessed it. His distant cousin was the very writer of "The Star Spangled Banner." The original Francis Scott Key had family ties to Maryland. The story of Fitzgerald, not very religious and a known drunk, and how he came to be buried at a Catholic church is worth the read.
Adventurous geeks all around make the pilgrimage to La Madeliene Cementary in Amiens, France to visit the famous Jules Vern's grave. This iconic author, left his mark in books like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (which we just read for book club last month) and Journey to the Center of the Earth. His grave and the statue climbing from it, make it an icon in and of itself.
|Headstone at Jules Vern's grave site.|
|J.R.R. Tolkien's Grave|
Many authors have made requests in their wills as to their epitaphs. The great Charles Dickens, buried in Westminster Abbey in Poet's Corner (London, England), write in his will "that my name be inscribed in plain English letters on my tomb . . . I rest my claims to the remembrance of my country upon my published works." He got what he asked for:
|Grave of Charles Dickens|
|Headstone of author Mark Twain|
By far, the prize for the best epitaph goes to H.G.Wells (author of The Time Machine and The Island of Dr. Moreau). It has nothing to do with the location of his grave because there isn't one (he was cremated in England and his ashes cast out at sea). But Wells said once that if he wrote his own epitaph, it would say:
Goddamn you all: I told you so.
And that, my friends, is how you go out with the last word.
(for more funny epitaphs, check out these "last words" of famous authors).