A RIMBAUD / VERLAINE DRIFT is 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.
It’s difficult to overestimate the transgressive brilliance of Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, and easy to underestimate the extent to which they are London writers. Rimbaud spent fourteen months of his meteorically brief writing career - lasting only between the ages of 16 to 21 - in London.
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 Richardsons’ excellent biography of Verlaine, and has mapped out many of the most significant Rimbaud/Verlaine sites. The most famous site is the Rimbaud/Verlaine house at 8 Royal College Street. There the beautiful marble plaque says that the French poets lived in the house from May to July 1873, important dates considering A Season in Hell is dated ‘April – August 1873′.
The walk traces the poets’ doomed quest to ‘re-invent love’ as well as Rimbaud and Verlaine's separate returns to the English capital. We also find out about Verlaine’s truimphant return to London in the 1890s where he was feted as the prince of the Decadents.
Meeting for a 2pm start, the walk will commence at Charing Cross station by the Eleanor Cross in the forecourt on Strand. £10. Please click here to buy tickets.