12 of The Most Famous Last Words in History

A final statement can be haunting and impactful in equal measure, and throughout history, there have been some iconic statements uttered on dying breath. From Benjamin Franklin to Kurt Cobain, there’s no end to intrigue when hearing their final words.

Most Famous Last Words In History

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To those who have claimed fame and made an impact, here are some of the most poignant last words in history. 

1. Jane Austen 1775-1817

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“I want nothing but death.”

At only 41, Austen died in her bed from an unidentifiable disease. In recent times, speculation has risen that it may have been cancer or even arsenic poisoning. However, no conclusion has been drawn. 

1. Jane Austen 1775-1817

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Austen’s final words were spoken to her sister, Cassandra, who was at her side when she died. 

2. Sir Winston Churchill 1874-1965

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Nataliia Zhekova / Shutterstock.com

“I am bored with it all.”

After a life much in the public eye, Sir Winston Churchill died as Prime Minister of England at age 90. His last words were to his family at his bedside.

3. Elvis Presley 1935-1977

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“I’m going to the bathroom to read.” 

At age 42, worldwide rockstar Elvis Presley died of a heart attack on his bathroom floor. While his last words have been heavily debated, his statement about going to the bathroom has remained the most confirmed. 

4. Julius Caesar 100 BCE-44 BCE

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“And you, child?”

Assassinated by his own group of senators, Julius Caesar was in the middle of a Senate meeting at the time. He was 55 years old and unprepared for the consequent stabbing.

4. Julius Caesar 100 BCE-44 BCE

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Caesar’s last words were thought to be directed at Brutus, a young senator who had instigated the attack. 

5. Bob Marley 1945-1981

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Yuri Turkov / Shutterstock.com

“Money can’t buy life.”

At just 36 years old, singer Bob Marley died of cancer. In a clinic with his son Ziggy by his side, Marley imparted the wisdom before losing consciousness.

5. Bob Marley 1945-1981

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Yuri Turkov / Shutterstock.com

The statement is hard-hitting, as Marley was worth millions at the time of his death. Money could not extend his lifespan. 

6. Frida Kahlo 1907-1954

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PHkorsart // Shutterstock

“Viva La Vida”

The iconic Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, died at the age of 47. While the cause of death was said to be pulmonary embolism, many believe an overdose could have been the reason.

6. Frida Kahlo 1907-1954

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While her last words are not accurately recorded, many believe the Spanish term Viva La Vida, which means live a long life, was her final message.

7. Amy Winehouse 1983-2011

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“I don’t want to die.”

At the young age of 27, Amy Winehouse died from alcohol poisoning following many troubled years dealing with the substance. Her final words were spoken to her doctor just hours before she succumbed. 

8. Benjamin Franklin 1705-1790

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“A dying man can do nothing easy.”

Dying of pleurisy at 84 years old, Benjamin Franklin had achieved much in his life.

His final recorded words were both insightful and humorous, an indicator of the colorful life he led.

9. Oscar Wilde 1854-1900

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“Either that wallpaper goes or I do.”

Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde was 46 when he died in exile after two years in jail due to his homosexuality.

Many find comfort in gallows – or black – humor, and Wilde was no exception. 

9. Oscar Wilde 1854-1900

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In a hotel in Paris, Wilde was complaining about how much he disliked the curtains when he died of meningitis.

10. Karl Marx 1818-1883

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“Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.”

No-nonsense till the end, the German philosopher and socialist was blunt with his delivery. He died aged 64 from lung disease. 

11. Virginia Woolf 1882-1941

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“I feel certain I am going mad again.”

At 59 years old, established novelist Virginia Woolf committed suicide.

In a letter penned to her husband Leonard, Virginia wrote her goodbyes in a way that very much reflected who she was.

11. Virginia Woolf 1882-1941

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Woolf’s letter finished with the statement: “I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.”

12. Kurt Cobain 1967-1994

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“It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”

The iconic rock musician died after deliberately shooting himself at age 27. His death followed the raging success of his band Nirvana and took place in his Seattle home.

12. Kurt Cobain 1967-1994

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His suicide note expressed love for his wife and daughter, but the Neil Young lyrics were what hit home to fans all over the world. 

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Goodbye In Many Words

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While final statements carry many meanings, one palliative care nurse says that often, in her experience, the last words reflect the concept of ‘going home.’

While that might not be as intriguing as philosophy or humor, it is certainly a reality with a comforting tone. 

This article was produced by TPR Teaching.

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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