‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know’ is one of the famous lines from the sonnet, ‘Ode to a Grecian Urn,’ which subtly depicts the greatness and grandeur of John Keats, one of the second generation of Romantic poets. This poet’s contribution is so significant that no discussion of Romantic English poets would be complete without mentioning him. John Keats lived to be only 25 years old, but he made a name for himself in the literary world with his exceptional sense of verse, style, and poetry in general. He has been compared to Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, despite only writing poetry seriously for about six years and producing only four publications during his lifetime. One of the remarkable aspects of Keats’ work is his poetic apprenticeship and maturity in writing in such a short period of time. Keats is one of the most studied and admired poets in modern Britain. However, during Keats’s lifetime in the early nineteenth century, his work was largely criticized and poorly received. It was only after his death that Keats creative outbursts gained popularity, resulting in a vertical growth in his reputation. He was said to have innate poetic sensibilities, which aided him in infusing his work with sensual imagery and expressing a philosophy through classical legend. Over the years, Keats’s works have influenced a large number of prolific poets and writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Childhood & Adolescence
John Keats was the eldest of the couple’s five children, one of whom died in infancy. Keats received the majority of his primary education at a local dame school after being baptized at St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate. Due to his father’s employment as a livery stable keeper, Keats relied on a meager income. In 1803 and unable to attend Eton or Harrow, young Keats enrolled at John Clarke’s school in Enfield. While the school was significantly smaller and less flamboyant than other larger, prestigious schools, it maintained a liberal outlook and a progressive curriculum that was more modern than most others. Keats was exposed to classics and history during his years at Clarke, which he seemed to have an affinity for and which remained with him until the end of his life.
Meanwhile, Keats became acquainted with Charles Cowden Clarke, the son of his headmaster, who served as a mentor and introduced him to Renaissance literature, including Tasso, Spenser, and Chapman’s translations. Keats, a voracious reader, began channeling his energy into reading and studying rather than succumbing to indolence and fighting as a result of his volatile character. However, while Keats’s educational career was proceeding smoothly, his personal life was turned upside down when his father died from a skull fracture sustained while falling from his horse.
Keats’s relationship with his father was shattered and heartbroken. Following the incident, the incident had a profound effect on his life and shaped his understanding of the human condition. Financial insecurity resulted from his father’s death. Frances, his mother, remarried, leaving her sons in her care and responsibility. Her new alliance, however, did not work out, and she returned to her family. In 1810, Keats’ mother died of tuberculosis.
Genuine Calling of John
Keats left Clarke’s school and apprenticed with Thomas Hammond, a surgeon and apothecary. He eventually studied medicine at a London hospital after completing his apprenticeship. Keats began assisting surgeons during operations within a month. He possessed an unusual aptitude for medicine, which led everyone, including his family and himself, to believe he would one day become a doctor. Keats gained increased responsibility and workload as a result of the lengthy training. Destiny appeared to have other plans for Keats, who was unsure about pursuing a career in medicine and appeared to be growing in fascination with and devotion to literature and the arts.
In 1814, he wrote his first poem, titled ‘An Imitation of Spenser,’ inspired by fellow poets Leigh Hunt and Lord Byron. Keats continued his studies against his will and eventually earned his apothecary license in 1816, which qualified him to practice as an apothecary, physician, and surgeon. He resolved, however, to be a poet rather than a surgeon, listening to the voice of his heart and following his true calling. Keats continued his education at Hospital but spent the majority of his time studying literature. He began experimenting with verse forms, most notably sonnets.
The Beginning of an Era
In 1816, Leigh Hunt agreed to publish Keats’s sonnet ‘O Solitude’ in his magazine, ‘The Examiner’. This was Keats’s first foray into the world of literature, as it was his first published work. Hunt had a significant influence on Keats’s life and writing in the years that followed. Keats was inspired to write after witnessing the success of his first literary work. Keats began writing ‘Calidore’ while on holiday with Clarke in the seaside town of Margate, in order to advance his ambition and true calling. The first volume of Keats’s verse, Poems, was published in October 1816.
Though the book received little critical acclaim, Keats refused to accept defeat and began work on his next volume. During this time period, Keats became acquainted with Woodhouse, who recognized Keats’ potential as a poet and writer. He counseled Keats on legal and literary matters and remained one of the poet’s closest confidants until his death. Keats’s subsequent work included an essay titled ‘Three Young Poets’ and a sonnet titled ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’. Published by Hunt, the work introduced Keats to literary giants such as Thomas Barnes (Times editor), Charles Lamb (writer), Vincent Novello (conductor), John Hamilton Reynolds (poet), and William Hazlitt, a prominent literary figure.
This can also be considered a watershed moment in Keats’s life, as he established himself as a prominent figure in literary circles. Keats devoted himself entirely to writing and abandoned his medical career. Keats relocated to Hampstead following his discharge from hospital, where he lived alongside Hunt and Coleridge. Keats’ next work was ‘Endymion,’ a four-thousand-line allegorical poem based on the same-named Greek myth. The mammoth poem, dedicated to Thomas Chatterton, failed to strike a chord with the critics, who openly criticized Keats’ style and poetry.
Two of the most influential critical magazines, Quarterly Review and Blackwood’s Magazine, attacked Keats as harshly as they did Hunt and his literary circle, referring to them collectively as ‘the Cockney school of poetry’. They even advised Keats to abandon poetry entirely. Keats was compelled by the criticism to reconsider the place of poetry in society. Keats began developing a theory for the famous doctrine of ‘Negative Capability’ during this time period.
In the summer of 1818, Keats embarked on a walking tour of northern England and Scotland, eventually settling at Wentworth Place to tend to his brother Tom’s ailing health due to tuberculosis.
Keats’ stay at Wentworth Place was a miracle year, as he was profoundly inspired by Hazlitt’s lectures on English poets. Additionally, this is when he met Wordsworth. Keats wrote his first Shakespearean sonnet, ‘When I Have Fears That I May Perish’. Following that, he created ‘Isabella,’ a story about a woman who falls in love with a man who is lower in social standing than the one chosen by her family.
Keats also published ‘To Autumn’, ‘The Eve of St. Agnes’, ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’, ‘Hyperion’, ‘Lamia’, and ‘Otho’ during this period. While ‘Hyperion’ described the Titans’ despair following their defeat by the Olympians, ‘To Autumn’ described the ripening of the fruit and the atmosphere of sleepy workers and maturing sun. In April and May 1819, Keats published a number of his greatest works, including ‘Ode to Psyche’, ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’, and ‘Ode on Melancholy’.
Personal History and Legacies
Keats allegedly had an affair with Isabella Jones, from whom he drew inspiration for several of his works. He first met her while on holiday in the village of Bo Peep, near Hastings. Keats first met Fanny Brawne in 1818, while nursing his younger brother Tom. The two developed an intimacy, and in April 1819, Brawne moved to the other half of Dilke’s Wentworth Place. The two began spending significant time together. Additionally, it is argued that Keats gave Fanny Brawne a half-completed love sonnet, ‘Bright Star,’ as a declaration of his love for her. Though the two reached an understanding, it was far from a formal engagement, as Keats offered Brawne little in the way of security or prospects.
Tuberculosis, which had developed into a family disease, struck Keats as well, and he was advised to relocate to a more temperate climate. In 1820, he developed increasingly severe tuberculosis symptoms, including two lung hemorrhages. He lost an excessive amount of blood. He moved into a villa on the Spanish Steps in November 1820 upon his arrival in Rome. By 1821, his health had deteriorated rapidly and was deteriorating further, to the point where he wept upon regaining consciousness and discovering he was still alive. Keats died on February 23, 1821. He was laid to rest in Rome’s Protestant Cemetery. His tombstone bears no name or date, only the words ‘Here lies One whose Name was written in Water,’ in accordance with his final wish.
Shelley memorialized Keats in his poem ‘Adonais’ about seven weeks after his death. Additionally, his residences at Wentworth Palace and Rome have been designated as memorials. Numerous Keats letters, manuscripts, and other papers have been archived at Harvard University’s Houghton Library. Numerous others are on display at the British Library, Keats House in Hampstead, Rome’s Keats-Shelley Memorial House, and New York’s Pierpont Morgan Library. In 1896, the Royal Society of Arts dedicated a blue plaque to Keats at Keats House. The British Keats-Shelley Memorial Association has been awarding a prize for romantic poetry annually since 1998.
Estimated Net Worth
John is one of the wealthiest poets and is ranked among the most popular poets. John Keats’ net worth is estimated to be around $11 million, according to our analysis, Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
The 2009 film ‘Bright Star,’ written and directed by Jane Campion, centers on the relationship between this gifted poet and Fanny Brawne. One of the most prominent poets of the English Romantic period, he gained prominence for his written verses of the odes, which included ‘Ode to Psyche’, ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’, and ‘Ode on Melancholy’.