Charles Baudelaire (1821 -1867) was a French poet who gained notoriety for his 1857 volume of poems, Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil), which dealt with controversial themes such as death, depression, homosexuality, alcohol, and others. He initially studied law, however he was unhappy with the profession and began to drink, hire prostitutes and run up debts. He then turned to a career in literature. His family, unhappy with his choice and lifestyle, sent him on a voyage to India in an effort to redirect his energy. This experience influenced his later poetry, with themes of the sea, port life, and exotic climes.
On his return to Paris, Baudelaire continued to write, and soon began to publish his writing, starting with art reviews, which gained attention; and established himself as an advocate of Romanticism. In 1857, he published his most famous volume of poetry, The Flowers of Evil, with it’s themes of sex and death it created a scandal. Baudelaire and his publisher were prosecuted. Gustave Flaubert,Victor Hugo and other notable writers and thinkers defended him and condemned the decision.
Towards the end of his life, Baudelaire suffered from many conditions brought on by his chronic use of opium and stress surrounding his debts. In 1866, he suffered from a stroke and died soon after.