On May 7th, I went to Highgate Cemetery, which I’d read about in Audrey Niffenegger’s excellent book “Her Fearful Symmetry” (which I highly recommend, it’s fantastic). I’m especially fond of old cemeteries (though as things go, Highgate isn’t especially old, dating from the Victorian era.) Every trip I take, I am compelled to go visit at least one cemetery.
Highgate has a number of famous burials, and I took pictures of several. I suppose most famously, Karl Marx is buried here. (I did take a photo, but the tomb is pretty pretentious, a big head, and not especially remarkable otherwise.) Other writers in the cemetery: George Eliot, Douglas Adams, Radclyffe Hall, and the brother of Lord Tennyson (though I don’t think he was a writer.)
This is Radclyffe Hall’s tomb, a vault on the Egyptian Avenue, in the Western cemetery, which is only accessible to the public via a guided tour. This side of the cemetery is Grade I listed, and thus is restricted to reduce damage/vandalism/people picking flowers, etc. I’m glad I paid to go on the tour, as it was an incredibly beautiful cemetery.
Radclyffe Hall is buried with one of her lovers, and there is a plaque tribute to her second lover, who died in Italy and was buried there. Someone pays for flowers to be left there every week, which I find absolutely charming. I’d love to know who, but not knowing, I like to think it’s a longtime friend or lover, or maybe a dedicated fan.
On the Eastern side of the cemetery, Douglas Adams (of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, if you’re not already familiar with him) is buried. His headstone is simple, and the pot of pens and pencils is incredibly charming. His plot is along the main road of this side of the cemetery, but it is set back a bit, and I almost missed it, as it’s a fairly low-key headstone (as compared with many there).
Above is the tomb of the writer George Eliot (writer of “Middlemarch”, check out her Complete Works which is available on Kindle in all its 4000+ pages). She was a leading writer of the Victorian era, and her tomb reflects the tastes of the time, with its Egyptian pylon style headstone.
I was fortunate that the weather was generally warm and sunny when I went; I was able to wander around for quite awhile, though it did start to rain later on. Though I wasn’t able to wander off the path in the Western side, I tromped along the small trails between tombs in the Eastern side. At one point, all I could see was trees and brush, and headstones. Birds chirped, wind rustled the leaves, and I could forget entirely that I was in a huge, busy city.