A Corner of the Table by Ignace Henri Fantin-Latour.  From left to right: Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Elzear Bonnier, Leon Valade, Emile Blemont, Jean Aicart, Ernest d’Hervilly, Camille Pelletan. Photograph: Leemage/Corbis via Getty Images

“Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine. have enriched our heritage through their genius,” begins a petition sent to French president Emmanuel Macron earlie(...)

 Portrait of Enid Starkie by Patrick George. Time magazine referred to her as “a brilliant Rimbaud scholar who pub-crawls about Oxford in bright red slacks and beret while smoking cigars”. Courtesy of Somerville College, Oxford

‘A bit of a character” is how an Irish newspaper journalist once referred to Enid Starkie. The colourful Dublin-born academic worked in Oxford Univers(...)

French poet Charles Baudelaire, who died 150 years ago this week. File photograph: Étienne Carjat/Getty Images

If Charles Baudelaire had lived a century-and-a-half later, I suspect he would have been a rock star. A tormented genius, like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hend(...)

Brigitte Macron: ‘We have breakfast together, me with my wrinkles, him with his freshness.’  Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

It’s too early to conjecture what President Emmanuel Macron’s legacy will be, but his long love affair with his wife, Brigitte, who is 24 years and ei(...)

 Detail from La Lecture, 1877, by  Henri Fantin-Latour. Photograph: Alain Basset/© Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon

In a century when most artists either sought the approval of the established Salon exhibition jury or rebelled and joined the avant-garde, Henri Fanti(...)

Stephane Hessel,  former French Resistance member, Nazi concentration camp survivor and post war diplomat

I had intended to write a column on the genius of France and the joys of being an American in Paris. Then my lifelong Francophilia was dented w(...)