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Passions in PoetryJohn Keats
1795 - 1821

Keats was the son of a livery stable keeper who died when he was eight; his mother died when he was 14. Keats remained deeply attached to his two brothers and sister for the rest of his life, nursing his brother Tom up until his death. He began writing in 1814 with an Imitation of Spenser, but his first published poem was O Solitude, published by Leigh Hunt in his journal The Examiner in 1816. In 1818 Keats met and fell passionately in love with Fanny Brawne. However the affair was plagued with difficulties and although they became engaged they were never able to marry. Keats's disappointment about this was an intense and tragic force in his life, and 1818-1819 saw the most prolific period of his writing. His poetry shows many of the themes which came to be characteristic of romanticism: a concern with dreams and mediaeval themes; images of the natural world and perhaps most centrally a dynamic balance between the ugliness and the beauty of existence together with vivid and sensuous imagery.

Keats had given up his training as a medical student at Guy's to earn a precarious living as a poet and although his final volume of poems received some good reviews, he had to put up with vicious and repeated attacks by Lockhart in Blackwood's and The Quarterly Review. He died, aged 26, before receiving the recognition he sought and deserved.

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