John Keats

Portrait of John Keats

John Keats was an English poet of the second generation of Romantic poets along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. His poems had only been in publication for under four years when he died of tuberculosis and his fame grew after his death. He was born in Moorgate, London on 31st October 1795 and died in Rome, Italy on 23rd February 1821 aged 35.

Major Works

“On First looking into Chapman’s Homer”. (1816) 
“Poems”. (1817) 
“Endymion”. (1818)
“Ode to the Nightingale”. (1819)
“Lamia”. “Eve of St. Agnes”. (1820) 

Biography Timeline

John Keats was Born on 31st October 1795 in London, England. He was the son of Thomas Keats a stable keeper and Frances Jennings and was the first of five children. He was educated at John Clarke’s School in Enfield, London.

1802: The Keats family moves to the Swan and Hoop Inn on London Wall to take over Keat’s grandfather’s business. 

1803: He goes to John Clarke’s school with his brother George.

1804: Death of Keats’s father Thomas in a riding accident on the way home from seeing his sons at school. His mother disappears and remarries to William Rawlings on the 27th June. The schoolboys have to stay with their grandparents in Ponders End during the holidays.

1805: Death of his Grandfather. His grandmother moves to Edmonton taking the children with her.

1809: His mother returns to Edmonton and asks to live with her mother and children but she is seriously ill with tuberculosis and Keats looks after her personally and reads out loud to her. 

1810: His mother finally dies in March and Keats hears of the loss whilst at school. He is apprenticed to an Apothecary Dr Hammond in Edmonton. 

1814: He writes his first poetry, “Imitation of Spenser”, “On Peace” and “Fill for me a brimming bowl”. His Grandmother dies in December.

1815: Due to the new Apothecary Act in July Keats has to study at a hospital before he can run his own business. He goes to Guy’s hospital in London in October in the hope of one day becoming a surgeon.

1816: His first poem “Oh Solitude” is published. Keats becomes a licensed Apothecary. He enters wholeheartedly into the life of a student both in and out of the hospital and attends bear-baiting, boxing matches and cock fighting with his friends. He first meets Joseph Severn through a mutual acquaintance.

1816: He starts work as a dresser, whose job was to dress wounds after a surgeon had performed his operations. He has a poem published in Leigh Hunt’s periodical “The Examiner” in May and begins to believe he should change his career to become a poet. In July he passes all his professional exams to become a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries. During the summer he goes on holiday with his brother Tom who is already in poor health. Keats meets Percy Byshhe Shelley for the first time in the autumn and Shelley persuades him not to publish his existing poems. Keats also meets the critic William Hazlitt. In December Hunt publishes “On First looking into Chapman’s Homer” and Keats decides to give up on becoming a doctor.

1817: His first volume of poetry is published in March. Keats and his brothers move to No. 1 Well Walk, near Hampstead Heath. He visits the Isle of Wight alone where he begins “Endymion”. In December he is introduced to William Wordsworth. On the 28th December he attends what has since been termed “the Immortal Dinner” where many notable literary guests are present such as Charles Lamb and Wordsworth. 

1818: He meets Fanny Brawne, a neighbour, for the first time in Hampstead in August. Death of his brother Tom on 1st December at the age of nineteen. Keats moves to Wentworth Place, Hampstead.

1819: Whilst lodging in Chichester he begins to write “The Eve of St Agnes” and he was probably inspired to write the poem by Chichester Cathedral which he visited. In April he begins to write “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”. He becomes ill again in July with the first signs of tuberculosis and returns to London and takes rooms in the City. He moves back to Hampstead in October and becomes secretly engaged to Fanny Brawne. Keats meets Samuel Taylor Coleridge on a walk on Hampstead Heath. 

1820: He begins his last illness in February. He moves in with Leigh-Hunt after a major Haemorrhage on the 22nd June. He moves into the Brawne household in the August for a month and is nursed by Fanny. Keat’s final volume of poetry, “Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St Agnes and Other Poems“, is published to very good reviews. On doctors advise that his lungs will not survive an English winter he sails to Italy on the 17th September with his friend, the painter, Joseph Severn. They eventually arrive in Rome after quarantine on the 15th November. The pair take up lodgings at at 26 Piazza di Spagna, next to the Spanish Steps.

1821: Joseph Severn nurses him until his death.

John Keats died on 23rd February 1821 of tuberculosis. (known as consumption at the time). He was buried in the English Protestant Cemetery in Rome, Italy.

Further Information

Please see Britain Unlimited’s John Keats page for more information here.

List of works by Keats.