Before he parted from Fanny Brawne and left Wentworth Place, Keats asked her to write to his sister, Fanny Keats. They began a correspondence of 31 letters over a four-year period.
This is Fanny Brawne’s fourth letter, written on 4 December 1820.
This letter is read by Darcy Keeble Watson, for the #Keats200bicentenary programme.
This extract is read by Darcy Keeble Watson, for the #Keats200 bicentenary programme.
Monday afternoon [4 Dec 1820]
My dear Girl
I am really afraid you will think me a most troublesome correspondent but this time I do not write on my own account but by your brothers wish. Mr Brown has received a letter from him dated November the 2nd from which I find he has not yet written to you, as he wished someone to do it for him. In the letter we received before dated the 24th of October, he said they had to stay on board ten days longer to perform Quarantine. So far they had had a tolerable voyage from the time they left Portsmouth. He did not think himself better or worse but his spirits were not very good. When he wrote to Mr Brown they were just arrived on shore, their sufferings during the quarantine were beyond any thing we can imagine. From your brother I never expect a very good account, but you may imagine how lowering to the spirits it must have been when Mr Severn who I never imagined it was possible for any thing to make unhappy, who I never saw for ten minutes serious, says he was so overcome that he was obliged to relieve himself by shedding tears. He however says your brother was a little recovered, at least quite as much so as he could expect, the day after his arrival. He says, if he can but get his spirits good, he will answer for his being well in a moderate time; which shows he does not consider he has any complaint of consequence. They had me with several friends who were extremely kind to them, particularly the brother of a young lady a passenger with them, who went out in dreadful health, and who, God knows, I have a thousand times wished at the bottom of the sea as I knows he made it worse for your brother. The Physician to whom our friends were recommended was at Rome when they reached Naples and they had made up their minds to go to Rome. I have written to him today and directed the letter there. If you would like to write to him mention it, and I will get the direction, for I cannot give it you now as it is a foreign one and I should make some mistake so I will ask Mr Brown again when I see him. I should like to have given you a better account but I must say that considering all things it is as well as we could have expected. My dear you must not consider this a letter from me but from your brother, for I should be quite ashamed not to mention being frightened of an acquaintance of yours – a letter has been received from Mrs George Keats to her brother. They are all very well and you may by this time expect another little nephew or niece
Yours very affectionately
Postmark: Hampstead. 4 o’clock Dec. 5. 1820. ev.
Address: Miss Keats, / Richard Abbeys Esq. / Walthamstow.
The Keats200 bicentenary is a celebration of Keats’s life, works and legacy, beginning in December 2018 through to February 2021 and beyond. It is led by three major partners – Keats House, Hampstead, The Keats Foundation and the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association – and is open to all individuals and organisations who have an interest in Keats or poetry. The bicentenary of Keats’s most productive years as a poet, and the period when he found inspiration, friendship and love, is an exciting opportunity to (re)discover and enjoy his works as well as engage with poetry and its ongoing relevance to us all today.