Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud was born in France in 1854. He began his literary career at the exceptionally young age of 15, though he started writing much earlier. By 21 he had stopped writing altogether, after completing his book illuminations. Rimbaud died from cancer at the age of 37, despite his short life Rimbaud’s work has influenced a huge number of artists, poets and songwriters.
Though Rimbaud was born into a well off family his life was a turbulent one. In his late teens he ran away from home multiple times, mainly in search of adventure. In 1871 Rimbaud moved to Paris and began an affair with fellow poet Paul Verlaine. Rimbaud and Verlaine travelled to London where they lived in poverty, making a small amount of money from teaching. Their relationship was not a happy one and it eventually ended with Verlaine shooting Rimbaud and being arrested for attempted murder.
At this time Rimbaud returned home to rural France for a short time, before travelling back to London in 1874. He then travelled to Reading where he hoped to find steady work. He only lived here for a short time teaching French at 165 Kings road, now known as Montpellier House. It was in Reading that Rimbaud began work on Illuminations, which many consider to be his finest work.
The Two Rivers Press produced a fully illustrated editions of Rimbaud’s poem the Drunken Boat as a way of commemorating Rimbaud’s short but significant time in the town.