Opium addiction


Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) spent most of his life in Paris, though one can see in some of his poetry the influence of an early voyage he made to the East Indies. His mother and stepfather had encouraged this trip in the hope that it would make Baudelaire forget about following a literary career. When Baudelaire returned to France he extravagantly spent the inheritance he received at the age of twenty-one from his own father's estate. He was then drawn into the bohemian artistic circles of the times, where, in particular, he formed an unhappy liaison with an unscrupulous woman, Jeanne Duval. Baudelaire is a superlative craftsman but his poetry reveals the tormented soul torn between sordid ugliness and beauty, despondency and hope, "satanism" and religion. Baudelaire was obsessed by this "spleen et idéal," as he called it, and his Fleurs du mal, first published in 1857, so shocked the public that the poet was brought to trial and heavily fined. The influence of Baudelaire has been tremendous, and he is regarded by many as the greatest poet in any language in the nineteenth century.

  • Baudelaire, Charles. Oeuvres complètes Paris: Éditions de la Nouvelle revue française, 1918-.
  • "Charles Baudelaire." Representative French Poetry. Ed. Victor E. Graham. 2nd edn. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1965. 80-85.
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Elizabeth Siddal(l) was born on July 25, 1829, in Holborn, London, the child of Charles Crooke Siddall and Elizabeth Elenor Evans Siddall. She had a very ordinary upbringing, distinguished only by her personal beauty, but it was enough. She caught the eye of a pre-Raphaelite painter, Walter Howell Deverell, as she worked in a bonnet store in Cranbourne Alley, London. In time, she modelled for Deverell, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt, then became Rossetti's mistress, and by 1852 began painting for herself and won the financial support of John Ruskin. Illness then struck, leading her to stop painting, and her engagement with Rossetti fell away in 1858. She sought him out again several years later, however, and they were wed on May 23, 1860, at St. Clement's Church, Hastings, and honeymooned in Paris and Boulogne. Their daughter was stillborn on May 2, 1861, and Elizabeth committed suicide by opium overdose on February 11, 1862. Rossetti placed a manuscript of poems in her coffin. Elizabeth's brother-in-law William Michael Rossetti had printed all fifteen of her poems piecemeal by 1906. They were largely ignored until Roger C. Lewis and Mark Samuels Lasner collected her works and published them in 1978.


  • Rossetti, William Michael. Dante Gabriel Rossetti: his Family-letters, with a Memoir by William Michael Rossetti. London: Ellis and Elvey, 1895. 2 vols. PR 5246 A4 1895 Robarts Library
  • --. Some Reminiscences. New York: Scribner, 1906. 2 vols. PR 5249 R2A8 Robarts Library
  • Marsh, Jan. The Legend of Elizabeth Siddal. London: Quartet, 1989.
  • Rossetti, William Michael. "Dante Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddal." Burlington Magazine (1903).
  • Siddal, Elizabeth. He & She & Angels three: three poems. London: E. and J. Stevens, 1979. pam 04804 Fisher Rare Book Library
  • --. Poems and Drawings of Elizabeth Siddal. Ed. Roger C. Lewis and Mark Samuels Lasner. Wolfville, N.S.: Wombat Press, 1978. B-11 5641 Fisher Rare Books Library
  • Surtees, Virginia. Rossetti's Portraits of Elizabeth Siddal: A Catalogue of the Drawings and Watercolours. Aldershot, Hants: Solar Press in association with Ashmolean Museum, 1991. NC 242 .R64A4 1991 Robarts Library
  • --. "Siddal, Elizabeth Eleanor (1829–1862)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004.
  • Womack, Whitney A. "Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal." In Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 199: Victorian Women Poets. Ed. William B. Thesing. The Gale Group, 1999. 269-77.