Arthur Rimbaud

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Born in 1854, the original enfant terrible, Rimbaud was a visionary modernist poet who transformed French poetry. A precocious literary genius from the town of Charleville, close to the border with Belgium, in 1871 he was introduced to the older and more established poet, Paul Verlaine, and started a scandalous love affair with him. Shortly afterwards the two poets ran away together to the relative anonymity of London, then a fast-developing industrial metropolis. During the brief time that he lived in London, Rimbaud probably worked on his two acknowledged masterpieces, Illuminations (Illuminations) and Une Saison en Enfer (A Season in Hell). After a terrible row at No 8 Royal College Street, the stormy relationship with Verlaine came to an abrupt end in June 1873. Verlaine later shot and wounded Rimbaud in a hotel room in Brussels, and ended up in a Belgian prison. Shortly after the split Rimbaud gave up literature for ever and went off to become an explorer, trader and arms dealer in the horn of Africa. He died in Marseilles in 1891 at the age of only 37.

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