Fanny Brawne's letter to Fanny Keats, 13 December 1821

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.  

Fanny Brawne wrote this letter on 13 December 1821. She discusses her Christmas plans and makes reference to ‘three years ago’ at Christmas, which was ‘the happiest day I had ever then spent’ - this was the day she got engaged to John Keats.

This extract is read by Darcy Keeble Watson, for the #Keats200 bicentenary programme.

Thursday Dec. 13th

My dear Fanny

  before I began to write I thought I had a great deal to say to you and now I cannot recollect a word of any thing of consequence. You will find by the register I enclose that you are but 18, for which I am very sorry but the register will always be of use particularly when you are of age to show Mr Abbey as without so good an evidence he might doubt your word – I like Mrs Abbey's attempts the other day to make you but seventeen – a worthless old woman. You will see that I have not forgotten the story she told me – I saw Mrs Henderson yesterday but quite forgot to ask her about it – I dined with Mrs Dilke a day or two after I saw you. She asked whether you were in town but luckily never inquired whether I had seen you yet so I equivocated which you know is much the same as telling a story at once and said I did not mean to call on you at present for fear the Abbey's should think I came too often, true enough.  

  We dine with them on Christmas day which is like most people's Christmas day's melancholy enough. What must yours be? I ask that question in no exultation. I cannot think it will be much worse than mine for I have to remember that three years ago was the happiest day I had ever then spent, but I will not touch on such subjects for there are much better times and ways to remember them – I think you will like the great part of the Indicator I sent you – there are two pieces of poetry in it signed Caviare, by your brother. I never open it for he is connected with every page –

  Tuesday Decbr 18th. When I had written so far I was called away and have never been able to finish till today – I was at a party last night the first real party I have been to this year – You would have laughed had you seen me dressed out in my cap &c – I did feel a little queer – I have not written to Mr. Wylie nor am I sure that I shall ever summon courage to do so – But you have no right to blame me for a little modesty, so dont feel disappointed if you never get the picture at all – To be sure it is very dishonest of him to keep it – I shall if I can find it, enclose you Mrs George's hair – and then you will not be able to accuse me of anything of the sort.

I remain my dear Fanny  

  Yours most affectionately F. B.  

Finding it is impossible which coloured hair I liked best of the two curls tied together, and once flourishing on my fair head, I have sent both – they will serve to show you the mutability of all human things – though as different as possible they were cut off within a year of each other – how my hair must have changed for the better or worse – The oddest thing is the dark one was cut off first.

: Hampstead, 12 o’clock, De. 19. 1821. NN.

: For Miss Keats / No. 4. Pancras Lane / Cheapside –

Letter 15

Fanny Brawne’s letter to Fanny Keats, 13 December 1821, showing the address and postmark. Image courtesy of Keats House, City of London Corporation. K/MS/02/049.
A hand-written letter. The first page of Fanny Brawne’s letter to Fanny Keats of 13 December 1821.
Fanny Brawne’s letter to Fanny Keats, 13 December 1821, page 1.  Image courtesy of Keats House, City of London Corporation. K/MS/02/049. 

Read Fanny Brawne's previous letter written between 17 November and 12 December 1821.

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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.

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