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Jacques d'Adelswärd-Fersen

Born in February 20, 1880 / Died in November 5, 1923 / France / French

Jacques d'Adelswärd-Fersen poet from France was born on February 20, 1880, had 43 years and died on November 5, 1923. Poems were written mainly in French language. Dominant movement is theology.


Baron Jacques d'Adelswärd-Fersen was a French novelist and poet. His life forms the basis of a fictionalised biography by Roger Peyrefitte.

In 1903 a scandal involving school pupils made him persona non grata in the salons of Paris, and dashed his marriage plans; after which he took up residence in Capri with his long-time lover, Nino Cesarini. He became a "character" on the island in the inter-war years, featuring in novels by Compton MacKenzie and others. His house, Villa Fersen, remains one of Capri's tourist attractions.

He was born in Paris, France as Jacques d'Adelswärd, on 20 February 1880. As he was related on his paternal side to Axel von Fersen, a Swedish count who had had a relationship with Marie Antoinette, D'Adelswärd took on the name Fersen later in his life to advertise his link with his distant relative. D'Adelswärd's grandfather had founded the steel industry in Longwy-Briey. Adelsward went to school in Paris and studied briefly there at the Ecole des Sciences Politiques, and afterwards at the University of Geneva.

In 1897 he visited Capri and other parts of Italy with his mother.

The family steel furnaces had become profitable enough to make Jacques d'Adelswärd a rich and 'eligible' bachelor when he inherited at the age of 22.

Apart from joining the military, he traveled extensively and settled down as a writer. He published Chansons Légères (1900) and Hymnaire d'Adonis (1902) and other poems and novels.

In 1902 he holidayed in Venice, where he associated with the novelist Jean Lorrain. On his return to Paris he published his novel, Notre Dame des mers mortes. In 1903 Adelsward and his friend, Hans de Warren, were rumored to be holding Black Masses in his house at 18 Avenue de Friedland - entertainments featuring tableaux vivants of pupils from the best Parisian schools and attended by the cream of Parisian society - and were arrested on charges of inciting minors to commit debauchery. They were convicted and served a six-month prison sentence, were fined 50 francs and lost civil rights for five years. This response to indecency bears some similarities with the trial of Oscar Wilde in 1895, who also experienced social disapproval after being found guilty of "gross indecency with other male persons". Perhaps d'Adelswärd-Fersen was lucky that his feasts had been attended by some influential figures of Parisian society; which may have induced the court to drop some charges to minimize the scandal.

After his marriage plans were foiled, d'Adelswärd-Fersen remembered the island of Capri from his youth, and decided to build a house there. The island had already attracted other homosexual or bisexual visitors, such as Christian Wilhelm Allers, Somerset Maugham. E. F. Benson, Alfred Douglas, Robert Ross, Oscar Wilde, Friedrich Krupp, Norman Douglas, and Compton and Faith Mackenzie; and attracted many others during Adelsward's stay. He bought land at the top of a hill in the northeast of the island, close to where the Roman emperor Tiberius had built his Villa Jovis two millennia earlier. His house, initially called Gloriette, was eventually christened Villa Lysis (later sometimes referred to as Villa Fersen) in reference to Plato's Socratic dialogue Lysis discussing friendship (or, according to modern notions, homosexual love).

Villa Lysis is a notable building. Its style is described by some as "Liberty" but is not Liberty or Art Nouveau in the French manner but may perhaps be described as "Neoclassical decadent." The large garden is connected to the villa by steps leading to an Ionic portico. In the atrium a marble stairway with wrought-iron balustrade leads to the first floor, where there are bedrooms with panoramic terraces, and a dining room. The ground-floor sitting-room, decorated with blue majolica and white ceramic, overlooks the Gulf of Naples. In the basement there is a 'Chinese Room', in which opium was smoked.Jacques d'Adelswärd-Fersen spent the rest of his life based in Capri, and died there in 1923 —allegedly by suicide achieved through drinking a cocktail of champagne and cocaine. His ashes are conserved in the non-Catholic cemetery of Capri. His friend, Nino Cesarini, returned to Rome.