Born 7 Chester Street, Chelsea. Poet associated with the Pre-Raphaelites. He invented the poetic form called ‘roundel’. Was a good friend of Dante Rossetti, who called him his ’little Northumbrian friend’ as Swinburne had adopted Northumberland as his native county and was just over five feet tall.
Staying with his homosexual lover, George Powell, at Entretat (near Dieppe) Swinburne had a near-death experience swimming off the beach when he was swept out to sea. His rescue by a fishing vessel was witnessed (possibly assisted) by Guy de Maupassant who thus got to know Swinburne and Powell. He described his visits to their cottage on a number of occasions and the abode does seem very bizarre: on display were piles of bones and a flayed hand (the fingers of which Powell kept sucking), supposedly of a patricide. A large pet monkey was noisily present. After lunch pornographic German photographs were brought out for the boastfully heterosexual Maupassant's enjoyment. Afterwards he wrote: "If genius is a kind of delirium of the higher intelligence then Swinburne is assuredly a genius". The genius died at 11 Putney Hill.
Credit for this entry to: Alan Patient of www.plaquesoflondon.co.uk