Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud was a French poet known for his transgressive and surreal themes, and his influence on modern literature and arts, prefiguring surrealism. Born in Charleville, he started writing at a very young age and excelled as a student, but abandoned his formal education in his teenage years to run away from home to Paris amidst the Franco-Prussian War. During his late adolescence and early adulthood he produced the bulk of his literary output, then completely stopped writing literature at age 20, after assembling his last major work, Illuminations.
Rimbaud was known to have been a libertine and a restless soul, having engaged in a hectic, at-times-violent romantic relationship with fellow poet Paul Verlaine, which lasted nearly two years. After his retirement, he traveled extensively on three continents as a merchant and explorer, until his death from cancer just after his thirty-seventh birthday. As a poet, Rimbaud is well known for his contributions to symbolism and, among other works, for A Season in Hell, a precursor to modernist literature.