10 famous Britons’ last words

Burns cottage, scotland, robert burns
Plaque commemorating the birth of Robert Burns at Burns Cottage Credit: VisitBritain/Britain on View

What would you like your last words to be? For some people, the last thing they ever say turns out to be their most memorable line, while, for others, their last utterance is disappointingly (often hilariously) mundane.

1 Charlotte Bronte, 1816-55
He will not separate us. We have been so happy.
Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nichols, her father’s curate, who had loved her for some time in June 1854. She died a year later.

2 Robert Burns, 1759-96
“Don’t let the awkward squad fire over me.”
It is commonly accepted that these were final words of the great Scottish Bard.

3 Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900
“Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.”
While he died destitute in Paris at the age of 46, the writer was a wit until the end.

4 Lawrence Olivier, 1907-1989
“This isn’t Hamlet, you know. It’s not meant to go in the bloody ear.”
The actor couldn’t help a stage reference, even on his deathbed according to his nurse, who had spilt juice on ear.

5 Charles Darwin, 1809-1882
“It’s almost worthwhile to be sick to be nursed by you.”
The Naturalist died at his home Down House, after being nursed by his wife and two children Henrietta and Francis. His words were addressed to his daughters.

6 Sir Winston Churchill, 1874-1965
“I’m bored with it all.”
The great statesman and war leader died at home in London nine days after having a stroke, at the aged of 90.

7 William Pitt the Younger 1759-1806
I think I could eat one of Bellamy’s veal pies.
He was the youngest PM in British history at the age of 24 but he renowned for being thin and fond of liquor rather more than solids.

8 Captain James Cook, 1728-1779
“Take to the boats.”
The British explorer was knocked down and stabbed by native Hawaiians while leaving the island.

9 King Henry VIII, 1491-1547
“All is lost. Monks, monks, monks.”
The much-married monarch was still worrying about religion on his deathbed according to the history books.

10 Queen Victoria, 1819-1901
The long-reigning was distraught after the death of her husband Prince Albert in 1861, and it seems his was still foremost in her thoughts many decades later.

The Bedside Book of Final Words, compiled by Eric Grounds and illustrated by Bill Tidy is available from Amberley, and features hundreds of famous and final quotes, as well as the stories behind them. 


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