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 second letter, written on 6 October 1820.
My dear Miss Keats
First I must return you my thanks for your readiness in accepting me as a correspondent, and then hasten to inform you I have heard of your brother. I received yesterday a letter from Mrs Dilke with part of a letter from a relation of hers, copied out for my benefit, as I shall copy it for yours ‘I have had some very unexpected visitors, Mr Keats and Mr Severn. They had been beating about with a contrary wind ever since they left London, and at last put into Portsmouth. I think Mr Keats much better than I expected and Mr Severn said he was sure that notwithstanding the hardships they had undergone, he was much better than when he left London.
I cannot say this news pleases me much, I was in hopes that by this time he was half-way to Naples. He left Portsmouth on the 29th of September, the wind being favourable, the next day it again changed contrary to their wishes, but they did not return to it is supposed the captain put to sea. I had a message for you from your brother before he left Hampstead as well as a lock of hair, both of which I forgot. He particularly requests you will avoid colds and coughs, and desires you never to go into the cold air out of the hothouse. The hair I myself cut off for you. It is very short, as he had little at the time. If you wish to use it in a manner that requires more pray mention it, I have some that was cut off two or three years ago I believe, and there is no difference in the color.
My Mother is just returned from the city, and she saw Mr Haslam who had received a letter from Mr Severn, not dated so late by some days as that Mrs Dilke received; Mr Keats had had no return of his complaint, and suffered comparatively little from sea-sickness. I believe we shall receive that letter or one like it shortly. If that is the case I will send it to you or copy it for you. I will not make any request about a speedy answer but leave it to your own inclinations.
Your affectionate Friend
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.