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A gothic quill.

Why French poet Charles Baudelaire was the godfather of Goths

Goths are typically regarded as being on the fringes of society – members of a subculture which finds beauty in the darker elements of human experience.

And while their dress code is much imitated – and celebrated – over Halloween, they have a proud history that stretches far beyond a seasonal horror festival.

In fact, the French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-67) could easily qualify as the template goths (and other bohemians) aspire to.

He often dressed in black, dyed his hair green, and rebelled against the conformist, bourgeois world of mid-19th century Paris in both his personal life and his art.

His first collections of poems, Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil, 1857), was prosecuted for offending public morals, challenging its audiences with its startling treatments of sex, Satanism, vampirism and decay.

No wonder his words would one day be set to music by The Cure.

Aside from his writing, Baudlaire’s dissolute life was a checklist of boho credentials. He fell out with his family. He went bankrupt. He pursued reckless sexual experiments and contracted syphilis. He developed a drug habit.

He associated with artists, musicians, writers and petty criminals rather than “respectable” people...

Dr Nick Freeman, of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, discusses why Charles Baudelaire was the 'godfather of Goths' in The Conversation. Read the full article here

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Press release reference number: 19/174

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