Biographical / Historical
Frederick William Serafino Austin Lewis Mary Rolfe (1860-1913),was an English writer, photographer and eccentric. Also known as Baron Corvo, he was associated with the "Yellow Book" circle and fin-de-siecle decadent culture. In 1889, while a student in Rome, he was adopted into the circle of the Duchess Sforza Cesarini (1818-1897), who became his patron. A convert to Catholicism, Rolfe studied to be a priest, but was rejected. He wrote short stories for the "Yellow Book," and painted religious banners with boy-saint motifs. His best-known works are his 1904 novel "Hadrian VII," and "The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole," considered by admirers like Susan Sontag and Graham Greene to be the greatest novel written about the city of Venice.
By the end of World War I, Corvo had fallen into obscurity as an author. In 1934, British eccentric author A.J.A. Symons (1900-1941), published the so-called cult-classic "The Quest for Corvo" which earned critical acclaim for its exploration of the dynamic between author and subject; and ignited renewed interest in Corvo’s work.