2021 marks the bicentenary of the death of Romantic poet John Keats. This online exhibition by Keats House, Hampstead celebrates his life and works for the #Keats200 bicentenary programme.
‘beautiful and elegant, graceful, silly, fashionable and strange’
John Keats to George and Georgiana Keats, 16 December 1818.
In April 1819, the Dilke family moved out of Wentworth Place and rented their side of the house to Mrs Brawne and her three children, including the eldest daughter Fanny.
Fanny Brawne and Keats first met some time in late 1818. The Brawne family had rented Brown’s home for the summer while Keats and Brown were walking in Scotland. On Brown’s return, the family took another house nearby in Hampstead and continued to visit their friends at Wentworth Place.
After she moved back to Wentworth Place, and now separated only by a wall, the two fell deeply in love. It is not known when they exchanged rings, but we do know that Keats wrote 39 love letters to her between April 1819 and September 1820. The spring and summer of 1819 was a remarkably productive period in Keats’s life, inspired in large part by his love for Fanny Brawne. Even after he became seriously ill from February 1820, he continued to write letters to her despite being told by his doctors not to read or write poetry, in case it distressed him.
Fanny Brawne saw Keats for the last time on 13 September 1820, when he left for Rome. She continued to live in the house until a few years after her mother’s death in 1829.
Each day until 23 February, marking 200 years since Keats's death, we will share a new story related to periods in his life.
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.