Elgee-Wilde, Jane Francesca

BORN 27 Dec 1821, Dublin - DIED 3 Feb 1896, London: 146 Oakley Street, Chelsea
BIRTH NAME Elgee, Jane Francesca
GRAVE LOCATION London: Kensal Green Cemetery, Harrow Road, Kensal Green (147/6 (35853))

Daughter of a lawyer and granddaughter of Archdeacon Elgee of Wexford. She was a niece of Charles Maturin. Using the pen name Esparanza she wrote poems for "The Nation" during the 1840s. Some of them were pro-Irish and anti-British. She also advocated woman's rights and was one of the first to do so.

In 1851 she married William Wilde, who was knighted in 1864. Their son Oscar Wilde was born in 1854. In 1864 a woman named Mary Travers claimed that Sir William had seduced her and she started a court case against Jane for libel. Mary won and Jane had to pay 2,000 pounds. Things became worse when their daughter Isola died of a fever in 1867 and the two illegitimate daughters of William burned to death in 1871.

In 1876 William died and Jane discovered that he was almost bankrupt. She moved from Dublin to London where she lived with her elder son Willie in poor circumstances. She used William's research on Irish folklore to write for magazines and books.

Early in 1896 she suffered from bronchitis and when it became clear that she was dying she asked if she could see Oscar, who was in prison at the time. Her request was denied and she died at her home in Chelsea on 3 Feb 1896. To spare expenses she was buried without a headstone in common ground at Kensal Green Cemetery in London. Some sources state that Willie was buried in the same grave, but others state he was buried elsewhere in the cemetery.

In 1996 the centenary of her death was remembered at her grave after the location was looked up in the records of Kensal Green. In 2000 a monument was finally placed at her grave by the Oscar Wilde Society.

• Son: Wilde, Oscar
• Husband: Wilde, William (1851-1876)


The grave of Jane Francesca, Lady Wilde at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (26 Jun 2009)


Paths of Glory, The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery, London, 1997

Eliot, George

Published: 30 Jul 2010
Last update: 10 Jul 2023