Fanny Brawne’s letter to Fanny Keats, written between 17 November and 12 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 between 17 November and 12 December 1821. In it she talks a lot about Lord Byron and her thoughts on his writing.

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

Monday night.

My dear Fanny

  I have asked Mr. Brown to look for your age. Alas it is not there but if you will let me know where you were christened, if it be in London, my brother will get your register a day or so after I receive your letter – He has been getting one for my aunt and knows the way – I have no pity whatever for your nerves because I have no nerves, but I think your dislike to the word criticism quite proper, it is a very ugly foolish word – and heaven forbid we should ever use it – you may rate your powers that way as low as you please but as I consider mine only worth three halfpence I dare say you won't think them lower than that – Don't suppose I ever open my lips about books before men at all clever and stupid men I treat too ill to talk to at all. Women generally talk of very different things – Don't you or do you admire Don Juan? perhaps you like the serious parts best but I having been credibly informed that Lord B. is not really a great poet, have taken a sort of dislike to him when serious and only adore him for his wit and humour. I am by no means a great poetry reader – and like few things not comic out of Shakespeare. Comedy of all sorts pleases me. I think Beppo nearly as good as Don Juan. When you read it you will notice that gratifying account of us English young ladies – I believe I did not tell you that Donna Inez was intended for Lady Byron to whom he wrote that fine sentimental, ‘Fare thee well’. The character is beautiful and I have no doubt very like for I have heard Lady B. is a bluestocking. One thing is certain to me, which is, that it is impossible to write about books, for before you can get out your sensations about one Iine the letter is finished – but it is always better to talk about them – Llanos was here the other day looking bad enough and more like a Frenchman than a Spaniard – I keep that name for best, and in common call him Guiterez –

  I who call on nobody have actually four calls and two visits to make as soon as the weather will suffer it, besides yours which is a visitation, in Mrs A's opinion at any rate. I do believe I always stay 3 hours and I should like to stay six – Don't suppose that is a bit of a compliment stuck in at the end of a letter for I never can make compliments which is no merit but a great awkwardness and particularly foolish in me who am not at all bashfull and hardly modest – I shall send this at a venture to London – If the day you appoint is very wet I will put it off to the next and so on – Good night. I have got all my hair to curl, everybody is in bed and the fire half out – I shall put up prayers tonight that you may be able to make out most of this letter.  

Yours very affectionately  

F B  

No address or postmark
.

Letter 14

A hand-written letter. The first page of Fanny Brawne’s letter to Fanny Keats, written between 17 November and 12 December 1821.
Fanny Brawne’s letter to Fanny Keats, written between 17 November and 12 December 1821, page 1. Image courtesy of Keats House, City of London Corporation. K/MS/02/049.
A hand-written letter with cross-hatched writing. The fourth page of Fanny Brawne’s letter to Fanny Keats, written between 17 November and 12 December 1821.
Fanny Brawne’s letter to Fanny Keats, written between 17 November and 12 December 1821, page 4, showing cross-hatched writing.  Image courtesy of Keats House, City of London Corporation. K/MS/02/049. 

Read Fanny Brawne's previous letter written on 15 November 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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