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Biography of John Keats

John Keats

John Keats was born in London, England on October 31st, 1795. He was one of the most important components of the English romantic movement and is still considered one of the greatest English poets of all time.

Keats was the son of a livery stable keeper. Keats was the first of four children; John, Fanny, George and Tom. The first seven years of his childhood were happy; however, in 1803 they turned for the worst. His father died of a skull fracture after falling from his horse. Keats' mother married quickly, but soon left her new husband to move in with Keats' grandmother.

There, Keats begun his love for literature. But in 1810 his mother died from tuberculosis leaving him and his siblings with only their grandmother.

Keats' grandmother then appointed two guardians in effort to care for the children. The guardians removed Keats from his current school and placed him in another to become a surgeon's apprentice. For another four years this continued until 1814, after a fight with his guardians. He left the apprenticeship and would become a student at the local hospital. There he would devote more of his time to studying literature.

During this time, Keats was introduced to the works of Edmund Spenser. It was Spenser's The Faerie Queene which inspired Keats' to write his first poem, Imitation of Spenser. And in 1816 the poem was published by his friend Leigh Hunt.

In 1817 his first volume of poetry entitled Poems was published. The volume was not received well however, highly due to his friendship with Hunt.

During the summer of 1817, Keats moved to the Isle of Wight where he would soon find his brother Tom, who was suffering from tuberculosis.

After finishing his epic poem Endymion, Keats left to visit Scotland and Ireland with his friend Charles Brown. However, he quickly returned after showing signs of tuberculosis. When he returned, Endymion was receiving bad reviews and Tom's condition was deteriorating. The Blackwood's Magazine belittled Keats by saying he was part of Leigh Hunt's "Cockney school" of poetry.

In 1818, Tom Keats died. Because of this, John moved back to London to live in Brown's house. There he met Fanny Brawne, who was also living with her mother. They quickly fell in love.

The following spring and summer of 1819 produced some of Keats' finest poetry; Ode to Psyche, Ode on a Grecian Urn and Ode to a Nightingale.

Keats and Fanny's relationship was cut short. In 1820, John began showing worse signs of his disease. Due to suggestions from his doctors, Keats' left the cold climate of London and moved to Italy with his friend, artist Joseph Severn, shortly after publishing Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems which later proved to be some of the most important work of the 19th century. For a year his symptoms seemed to better but they quickly deteriorated.

John Keats died in Rome on February 23, 1821. He is buried at the Protestant Cemetery, Rome with a tombstone reading "Here lies one whose name was writ in water."

Keats is said to be one of the three greatest romantic poets along with Shelley and Byron.

Poems by John Keats


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