Join the Idler for a poetic walk following the London trail of Arthur Rimbaud and his fellow poet Paul Verlaine, who first visited the English capital – which they called “Leun Deun” – in September 1872.
Though Rimbaud and Verlaine were just two of many ex-Communards living among the French refugee community in Soho, their situation was unique. They were on the run from the huge scandal they had created in literary Paris after the 27-year-old Verlaine abandoned his wife and child to embark on a tempestuous same-sex relationship with his 16-year-old protege Rimbaud.
Poet Niall McDevitt has gleaned the great biographies of Rimbaud by Enid Starkie, Jean-Luc Steinmetz, Charles Nicholls, and Graham Robb, as well as Joanna Richardson’s fine biography of Verlaine, and has mapped out many of the most significant Rimbaud/Verlaine sites.
The walk traces the poets’ doomed quest to “re-invent love” as well as Rimbaud and Verlaine’s separate returns to the English capital including Verlaine’s triumphant visit to London in the 1890s where he was feted as the prince of the Decadents.