Historical Who is Who
1821 - 1867
Baudelaire is renowned as a romantic poet, but the title of the most famous collection of his poems – Fleurs du Mal (Flowers of Evil) – points to the complexity within his natural enthusiasm. His preferred life-style is commonly described as that of a ‘dandy’, but it did not blunt his Parisian engagement with the activities of the second French revolution of 1848. His poems are explicit in their exploration of sexual themes, satanism and the darker side of human experience which he addresses with a moral passion in search of meaning. Whilst tilting against social convention and scandalising contemporary commentators, he was highly regarded by writers and painters, including the likes of Flaubert and Goya, Victor Hugo and Edgar Allen Poe, and a continuing inspiration of others into the 20th century – TS Eliot, Proust and Sartre. The side effects of opium-smoking and syphilis, combined with physical weakening from childhood ill-health, probably explain his relatively early death.