Idler Walks: A Rimbaud/Verlaine Drift through Soho

Niall McDevitt|Saturday 27th October

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Poet Niall McDevitt at the tomb of John Constable during the Idler Festival

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.

About the Speaker

Irish poet Niall McDevitt lives in West London. He is the author of three acclaimed collections of poetry, b/w (Waterloo Press, 2010), Porterloo ( International Times, 2013) and Firing Slits: Jerusalem Colportage (New River Press, 2016).
His work appears in Wretched Strangers, an anthology of non-UK born writers; Urban Shamanism, poets from north, west, south and east London; Diamond Cutters, poets in Britain, America and Oceania; and the STRIKE! Anthology.
He is a ‘walking artist’ who specialises in the historic poets of London, particularly Shakespeare/Blake/Rimbaud/Yeats. He blogs at
His walks have been written about in The Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, the Idler, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
In 2016, he was invited to read his work in Iraq at the Babylon Festival.
His book BABYLON (a neoliberal theodicy) And Other Poems is forthcoming from New River Press.



Saturday 27th October


Meet at 11am


The walk will commence at Charing Cross station. Meet by the Eleanor Cross in the forecourt on Strand


2-2.5 hours


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To Book

Add to basket or call 0203 176 7907




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