Before he parted from Fanny Brawne and left Wentworth Place, Keats asked her to write to his sister, Fanny Keats. This began a correspondence of 31 letters over a four-year period.
Fanny Brawne wrote this letter in late October or early November 1821. She lets Fanny Keats know that Don Valentine Maria Llanos Guiterez will be calling to see her at Walthamstow. She adds that Fanny should not let her Guardians know that she heard his name in the previous letter, in case they prevent him visiting.
This extract is read by Darcy Keeble Watson, for the #Keats200 bicentenary programme.
My dear Fanny
I have almost changed my mind about visiting you at Walthamstow. I think I will wait till you come to town, which will not be above 3 or 4 weeks now. Mrs Abbey would certainly stare and think it rather presuming on her good nature, indeed I would rather have walked in the fields with you than have entered her house. I assure you she did not impose on me with all her concern for our thin shoes and damp feet. Her appearance surprized me. I expected a more portly redfaced dame. She is much more in the motherly-nursey stile than I expected. Guiterez dined with us yesterday and told me he had seen an acquaintance of mine. After guessing for an hour to no purpose, for though I thought of you it seemed so improbable I did not mention it, my Mother found out; of course we laughed at him finely for his polite offer of calling on you. However I have informed him your guardian is particular and cautioned him against letting the family see you are acquainted. Don Valentine Maria Llanos Guiterez is a pretty name, is it not? he himself is everything that a Spanish Cavalier ought to be. You need not be affraid of speaking to him for he is extremely gentlemanly and well behaved. My Mother has received a letter from Mr Severn but I did not wish to read it. Did you tell Guiterez you had seen a gentleman from Italy? If so, I suppose Mr Ewing has called on you. My Mother thinks it probable but I imagine it his mistake – I have only seen Mr Ewing for a few minutes almost in the dark but he seemed so fluttered and confused that I could make nothing of him; but he has claims on us both from his great kindness in Italy. God bless you my dear Fanny.
No address or postmark.
Read Fanny Brawne’s previous letter and how these letters returned to the Keats House collections. You can also read some research and thoughts on the letters by research student Phoebe Lambdon.
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.