John Keats was probably one of the best Romantics. Keats’s genius was intense and his feelings for beauty, perfection and art are established in most of his odes. Keats did not live long as we shall see in the biography, yet his poetry is regarded as part of the best Romantic poetry.
A Brief Biography of John Keats
John Keats was born on October 31, 1795 in London. He was the oldest of four children. Keats lost his parents at a very young age. His father died when Keats was eight and his mother died six years later of tuberculosis. His maternal grandmother appointed Richard Abbey and John Rowland Sandell as Keats’ guardians. When Keats was fifteen, Abbey withdrew him from the Clarke School, Enfield, to apprentice with a surgeon and study medicine in a London hospital. In 1816 Keats became a licensed surgeon, but he never practiced his profession, rather he ventured into poetry writing. Keats met Leigh Hunt, an influential editor of the Examiner who published his sonnets. Hunt also introduced Keats to a crop of literary giants of his time such Percy Bushe Shelley and William Wordsworth.
The group’s influence enabled Keats to see his first volume. “Poems by John Keats”, published in 1817. This volume was heavily criticized by the critics of the day.
Keats spent the summer of 1818 on a walking tour in Northern England and Scotland, returning home to care for his brother, Tom, who was suffering from tuberculosis. During this period, Keats met Fanny Brawn whom he fell in love with; some of his finest poetry was written between 1818 and 1819. Keats mainly worked on “Hyperion”, a Miltonic blank-verse epic of the Greek creation myth. He stopped writing “Hyperion” upon the death of his brother, after completing only a small portion, but in late 1819 he returned to the piece and rewrote it as “The Fall of Hyperion”. That same autumn, Keats contracted tuberculosis, and died in Rome on February 23, 1821 at the age of twenty-five, and was buried in the protestant cemetery.