Introducing John Keats and Keats200

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.  

Introducing Keats and Keats200

‘Thou was not born for death, immortal Bird!’
‘I was never afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest’       

          John Keats to J.A. Hessey, 8 October 1818

About John Keats

John Keats was born and baptised in the City of London in 1795. After education in Enfield and an apprenticeship in Edmonton, he trained to be a doctor at Guy’s Hospital before giving up a career in medicine to become a poet.

Keats moved to Hampstead, then a village outside of London, in 1817 and lived at Wentworth Place (now Keats House) from December 1818 to September 1820. While living there he mixed with a circle of friends who nurtured him and his work,met and fell in love with Fanny Brawne, and wrote most of the work for which he is now famous.

After falling ill with consumption, he left England to go to Italy for his health but died there on 23 February 1821 at the age of just 25.

His gravestone in Rome bears the words ‘Here lies one whose name was writ in water’, as he believed he had not achieved literary fame in his lifetime. Two hundred years later however, Keats is one of the best-known English Romantic poets and the works he wrote in the spring and summer of 1819 in particular, are republished, studied, read and loved to this day.

Whether you already love his work or are new to Keats and his writing, we hope you find his genius and legacy living on through this exhibition.

Bust of John Keats. Anne Whitney, marble, 1873. K/AR/01/012. Image by Elaine Duigenan, 2020, CC-BY-NC-ND.
Bust of John Keats. Anne Whitney, marble, 1873.K/AR/01/012.
Image by Elaine Duigenan, 2020, CC-BY-NC-ND.

Keats200

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.

One Keats200 project has been with photographer and artist, Elaine Duigenan. As Artist in Residence during 2020, Elaine has been inspired by the garden and collections at Keats House, Hampstead. She has created new artworks drawing on themes associated with Keats’s life and works. Two of these are featured in this exhibition and Keats House would like to thank Elaine for permission to use these beautiful works of art to help engage us with the events of 200 years ago.

Today, Keats House is managed by the City of London Corporation and is a registered charity (1053381). Make a donation to support the Keats200 legacy programme.

Find out more

Each day until 23 February, marking 200 years since Keats's death, we will share a new story related to periods in his life.

Introduction to Keats and Keats200

Early life

Medical Training

Wentworth Place

Fanny Brawne

Poems of 1819

Critical Responses

Keats and Consumption

Death and Legacy

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.

Find out more about #Keats200 by following Keats House on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.