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 third letter, written on 27 November 1820.
This extract is read by Darcy Keeble Watson, for the #Keats200 bicentenary programme.
My dear Friend
I do not know whether you will consider mine a long silence but I can assure you it has not been the effect of forgetfulness. I was staying in town at the time your letter arrived, and though I soon returned home it was only for a few days. Besides which I thought it would be better to wait a short time in consequence of what you mentioned about Mrs Abbey. I was not quite a stranger to your situation in that family and I should write a eulogium on that lady’s character in particular but that I am afraid of some unlucky accident which might expose at the same time my opinion and our correspondence. Even now I tremble at what I have said as I am ignorant whether you receive your letters in public or whether you have private arrangements for that purpose.
We received a letter from your brother about a fortnight ago. So I dare say did you. I was so extremely happy to hear of his arrival at Naples, that I overlooked the hardships of their wretched voyage and even the bad spirits he wrote in. The weather was so much against him, joined to his spirits, which prey on him and continually make him worse, that it would have been too much to expect any great improvement in his health. He mentioned that Mr Severn was writing to Mr Haslam and that we should have the letter to read as it would give a better account of him than he could write himself. However we have not yet received it. When it arrives I will copy any material part for you. I promised to do so before, when I received a former letter of Mr Severn’s which arrived while I was in London. It was dated a day or two before their stay at Portsmouth and said your brother was a little better and that his spirits were good which I think most material.
I saw Mrs Dilke the other day and delivered your message. She desires me to return her love. My Mother with an elderly lady’s decorum begs to be remembered to you (and I beg for the future that you will always take it for granted she does so, as I am apt to forget her messages) and I send you my most affectionate love.
Postmark: Hampstead 7 o’clock, Nov. 27, 1820. N.
Address: For Miss Keats, / Richard Abbeys Esq. / Walthamstow.
Written inside cover: Wentworth Place Novr. 27 
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.