Keats200 - Wentworth Place

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.

Wentworth Place, Hampstead: ‘the fair And open face of heaven’

‘With Dilke and Brown I am quite thick – with Brown indeed I am going to domesticate– that is we shall keep house together’

          John Keats to George and Georgiana Keats, 16 December 1818.

The Keats brothers, John, George and Tom, moved from Southwark to Hampstead in 1817, initially to benefit from its healthier environment. Situated eight miles outside London, it was then a small village, or more accurately, villages, on the edge of the Heath, which was already a popular leisure destination for Londoners. Keats was also attracted by the literary people who lived there, including Leigh Hunt who was living in the Vale of Health at that time.

On 1 December 1818, John Keats’s brother Tom died of consumption at their lodgings in Well Walk, Hampstead. John walked to Wentworth Place to tell his friends the Dilke family and Charles Brown the news and was invited by Brown to come and live with him at the house.

A hand-drawn map of Hampstead in the 1800s, with images showing the key locations known to Keats: a view of the city from Hampstead Heath, the Vale of Health, Well Walk and Wentworth Place.

Keats lived at Wentworth Place on and off until September 1820. During this period,and inspired by his reading and surroundings, he produced many of the works for which he is now famous. He also found friendship with a creative, literary circle who championed his writing and encouraged him to work. Most significantly, while living in Hampstead he met and fell in love with Fanny Brawne, who lived at the house from April 1819 to December 1831.

Detail from ‘A view of Hampstead Heath with two figures on horseback’. John Hassell. 1818. Image courtesy of Collage – The London Picture Archive, 23766. Also includes ‘To one who has been long in city pent’. Keats. 1816: To one who has been long in city pent,    ’Tis very sweet to look into the fair    And open face of heaven, – to breathe a prayer Full in the smile of the blue firmament. Who is more happy, when, with heart’s content,    Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair    Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair And gentle tale of love and languishment? Returning home at evening, with an ear    Catching the notes of Philomel, – an eye Watching the sailing cloudlet’s bright career,    He mourns that day so soon has glided by: E’en like the passage of an angel’s tear    That falls through the clear ether silently.

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.