French edition of Oscar Wilde's Salomé


This is the original, French-language edition of Oscar Wilde’s play Salomé: A Drama in One Act.

Why is it in French?

Wilde explained to a French journalist at the time,

One of the most famous pieces of Wilde’s self-mythology concerns the composition of this play. He claimed to have gone out one evening to a café and told the musicians: ‘I am writing a play about a woman dancing with her bare feet in the blood of a man she has craved for and slain. I want you to play something in harmony with my thoughts.’ The band, Wilde alleged, played ‘such wild and terrible music that those who were there stopped talking and looked at each other with blanched faces. Then I went and finished Salomé'.

Did Wilde plan for it to be printed rather than staged?

Despite its language, Wilde had been refused permission for the play to be performed in England. This ban did not include print publication, however, and Wilde tried to make the most of the situation by simultaneously publishing the French script in England (by Elkin Matthews and John Lane) and France.

Full title:
Salomé: Drame en un acte
1893, Paris
Book / Playscript
Oscar Wilde
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Eccles 290.

Full catalogue details

Related articles

Aestheticism and decadence

Article by:
Carolyn Burdett
Fin de siècle

‘Art for art’s sake’? Aestheticism and decadence shocked the Victorian establishment by challenging traditional values, foregrounding sensuality and promoting artistic, sexual and political experimentation. Dr Carolyn Burdett explores the key features of this unconventional artistic period.

The Picture of Dorian Gray: art, ethics and the artist

Article by:
Greg Buzwell
The Gothic, London, Fin de siècle

Dark desires and forbidden pleasure are at the centre of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Greg Buzwell examines the interplay between art and morality in Oscar Wilde’s novel, and considers its use of traditional Gothic motifs as well as the theories of the new aesthetic movement.

Salomé: symbolism, decadence and censorship

Article by:
John Stokes
Fin de siècle

Professor John Stokes considers Salomé as a play within both the French Symbolist and the decadent traditions, exploring its influences, reception and Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations of the work.

Related collection items

Related people

Related works


Created by: Oscar Wilde

A play by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) composed in 1891, and inspired by Stéphane Mallarmé’s ...