Poet. Arthur Rimbaud, once dubbed the "enfant Shakespeare" by Victor Hugo, wrote The Drunken Boat and A Season in Hell, two of the most enduring and influential works of the French Symbolist movement, all before the age of 20. A brilliant student, he was born in a provincial French Village on Oct. 20, 1854, but frequently ran away from home. He began exchanging letters with established French poet Paul Verlaine. In 1871 at the age of 17, he ran away again to Paris and began a torrid affair with the married and older Verlaine, scandalizing the French literary community. It was during this period that he wrote his greatest poetry. Their affair lasted through 3 countries until 1873 when Verlaine, prone to drunken rages, shot Rimbaud in the wrist and was later arrested and inprisoned. In 1874, Rimbaud wrote the last of his poetic works, "Illuminations". Incredibly, he was only 19 years old. Although he would continue to be a prolific letter-writer throughout his lifetime, he would never again write poetry. For the rest of life, he would travel extensively, eventually covering three continents and working in a variety of occupations. In 1876 he enlisted in the Dutch Army for free passage to Java, Indonesia, after which he immediately deserted. He worked as an a foreman at a stone quarry in in Cypruss, a merchant in Yemen, an independent merchant, an engineer and a gunrunner in Africa. On Nov. 10, 1891, he died in Marseille following the amputation of his cancerous right leg, earlier in May of that year. During the short three year period of his creative writing, 1871-1874, Rimbaud wrote some of the most remarkable poetry of the 19th century, poetry that continues to be as influential and ground-breaking now as it was then. He was a pioneer of free-verse, writing some of the first free-verse ever, certainly the first in the French language and left us an enormous legacy that goes on to influence artists to this day.
Bio by: morgannia