Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud was a French poet. Born in Charleville, Ardennes,
he produced his best known works while still in his late teens—Victor Hugo described
him at the time as "an infant Shakespeare"—and gave up creative writing altogether
before the age of 21.
As part of thedecadent movement, Rimbaud influenced modern
literature, music and art. He was known to have been a libertine and a restless soul,
traveling extensively on three continents before his death fromcancer less than a
month after his 37th birthday.
Arthur Rimbaud was born into the provincial middle class of Charleville (now part
of Charleville-Mézières) in the Ardennes département in northeastern France.
He was the second child of a career soldier, Frédéric Rimbaud, and his wife
Marie-Catherine-Vitalie Cuif. His father, a Burgundian ofProvençal extraction, rose
from a simple recruit to the rank of captain, and spent the greater part of his army
years in foreign service.
Captain Rimbaud fought in the conquest of Algeria and was awarded the
The Cuif family was a solidly established Ardennais family, but they were plagued
by unstable and bohemian characters; two of Arthur Rimbaud's uncles from his
mother'sside were alcoholics.