John Keats Research Guide
John Keats was born in 1795 to a livery-stable keeper and the daughter of a stable-owner. Keats’ young life was marred by tragedy with the death of his father in 1804. His mother remarried before mysteriously disappearing for a four year period, leaving Keats and his siblings Tom, George, and Fanny in the care of their grandmother. She returned to her family shortly before dying of tuberculosis. Keats nursed her from then until her death in 1809 when he was 14 (Wolfson and Manning 975). During his childhood, Keats already showed sparks of the genius that would mark his
brief career. At Clarke’s School in Enfield, he
was introduced to the arts and began his own translation of Virgil’s Aeneid (Everest 2-3). At the age of However,
these literary aspirations were not
|John Keats by William Hilton|
Source: National Portrait Gallery, London
After these small but significant successes, Keats pursued the life of a Romantic poet. He lived in the country, wrote more poetry, and traveled through Northern England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Despite negative reviews of his poetry that mocked his social status, labelling him of the “Cockney School,” Keats continued writing and publishing his poetry, convinced he would become a celebrated poet if not during his lifetime then after his death (“Keats” 527). Sadly, Keats’s personal and life and career would continue to experience tragedy and success in equal measures. Late in 1817, Keats’s brother Tom died, prompting Keats to move in with his friend Charles Armitage Brown, with whom he also made his scenic tours (Everest 13-15). It was at Brown’s house in Hampstead that Keats met the love of his life, Fanny Brawne (1800-1865). These events led Keats to 1818 and 1819, a period sometimes called “The Great Year,” during which he wrote “The Eve of St. Agnes,” “La Belle Dame sans Merci,” Hyperion, “Bright Star,” and his famous “Odes” (“Keats” 527). Sadly, just as Keats was creating the works that would make him immortal, he was beginning to feel the early effects of the tuberculosis that would kill him. Beginning in 1818, Keats began to suffer chronic sore throats frequently. His condition deteriorated rapidly. At the beginning of 1820, he was struck with a serious lung hemorrhage. Still dreaming of success, Keats became secretly engaged to Fanny Brawne and set sail for the mild winter of Italy in the fall of 1820 (“Wolfson” 975). Keats’s health did not improve and he died in the February of 1821 at the age of 24, nursed by his friend Joseph Severn. He was memorialized in Shelley’s Adonais and has since become known as one of the English language’s greatest poets and one of the cornerstones of the Romantic period.
Book Review of Keats’s Boyish Imagination by John Marggraf Turley:
In his controversial work of criticism, Keats’s Boyish Imagination, scholar and poet John M. Turley argues that John Keats, throughout his short poetic career, engaged in a boyish rebellion against the prevailing aesthetic, political, and sexual mores of his day. Turley’s argument is brilliant but flawed. There are times when Turley’s critical eye penetrates Keats’s work so keenly, one wonders if he has opened a new paradigm of Keats criticism, while at other times he teeters close to the brink of irrationality. Nevertheless, for those who can overlook its flaws, Turley’s book is an enlightening and often entertaining read.
|John Keats by Joseph Severn|
Source: National Portrait Gallery, Lonndon
Turley begins his work by marshalling evidence for what he considers a current of immaturity that pervades Keats’s work. Whether this immaturity was real or merely a pose, whether it was consciously or unconsciously retained, and whether it had any bearing on Keats’s quality as a poet, Turley only answers quite late in the book. This lack of explication is the chief flaw in his work and may cause more than a few readers to dismiss Turley as half-baked. Indeed, beginning as he does with a Pulp Fiction-esque inquiry into a perceived “foot fetish” in Keats’s poetry, Turley seems to be courting the same notoriety for childishness that he ascribes to Keats. Not only is Turley’s logic in this first chapter somewhat abstruse, his argument is only tangentially related to his topic. After this rocky beginning, however, Turley does flesh out his argument proper, drawing evidence from Keats’s poetry, letters, and journals, to demonstrate that Keats was a man conflicted between joining the “mature” world of “adult” poets and politicians, and retaining his own “boyish” independence and lack of responsibility.
Turley draws on Keats’s poems, especially The Eve of St. Agnes, Lamia, and Ode to Autumn to demonstrate that Keats brought a “boyish” immaturity to his work. Turley analyzes, often with stunning detail, passages which indicate both conscious and unconscious rebellion against “growing up.” Again, Turley’s arguments are not flawless. More than once, in eagerness to prove his point, Turley rests his arguments on shaky footing. There are moments when Turley seems too quick to identify Keats not merely with his protagonists, but as his protagonists, suggesting the author had little or no separation from his poetry (a fact that is plainly not the case as evidenced by Keats’s own satirical approach to poetry that Turley addresses in Chapter 4). This is not the only instance in which Turley contradicts himself. In his analysis of The Eve of St. Agnes, Turley argues the “tiptoe, amorous” cavaliers represent sexually knowing, virile young men against whom we may see the unsure Porphyro as a symbol of the adolescent-minded Keats (25). However, once Turley comes to an analysis of Keats’s I Stood Tip-toe, he chooses a different reading of tiptoe. Here, Turley argues, “tiptoe” points to Keats’s immaturity, like a child trying to reach too high (60). Why Turley does not apply this meaning to the “tiptoe” cavaliers or tie these arguments together (they both involve the feet with which Turley was so concerned in his first chapter after all) is unclear except that of course, it might impede the flow of his argument.
The failings and inconsistencies in this book do not so much undermine Turley’s argument as demonstrate how much more powerful it could have been. After all, if the “amorous” cavaliers of The Eve of St. Agnes are themselves “tiptoe,” then perhaps they are not as knowing or mature as Turley seems to assume. Perhaps Porphyro, like Keats, has found the perfect blend of maturity and immaturity, allowing him to retain his youthful and boyish innocence while still gaining the object of his “manly” desires. Keats’s Boyish Imagination is not a bad work of criticism but had it probed its own argument deeper, it could have been a great one.
List of Keats Scholarship, 2004-2014:
Allard, James R. Romanticism, Medicine, and the Poet's Body. Aldershot, England: Ashgate,
Babar, Shazia. Strains of Romanticism in Abdul Ghani Khan and John Keats Poetry: A
Comparative Study. Peshawar: Pashto Academy, University of Peshawar, 2005. Print.
Badcoe, Tamsin Theresa. "'The Porch of That Enchaunted Gate': Spenserian Influences And The
Romance Of Place In Lamia By John Keats." Romanticism: The Journal Of Romantic
Culture And Criticism 17.3 (2011): 351-365.
Barnard, John. "'The Busy Time': Keats's Duties at Guy's Hospital From Autumn 1816 To
March 1817." Romanticism: The Journal Of Romantic Culture And Criticism 13.3 (2007): 199-218.
Barnard, John. "First Fruits or 'First Blights': A New Account Of The Publishing History Of
Keats's Poems (1817)." Romanticism: The Journal Of Romantic Culture And
Criticism 12.2 (2006): 71-101.
Barth, J. Robert. "Keats's Way of Salvation." Studies In Romanticism 45.2 (2006): 285-297.
Bate, Walter J, and Serra M. Del. Negative Capability: The Intuitive Approach in Keats. New
York: Contra Mundum Press, 2012. Print.
Bates, Brian. "'Welcome Joy, And Welcome Sorrow': Fancy, Imagination, And Keat's Re-
Visioning Of 'L'allegro' and 'Il Penseroso'."CEA Critic: An Official Journal Of The College English Association 67.3 (2005): 15-27.
Beachy-Quick, Dan. A Brighter Word than Bright: Keats at Work. , 2013. Print.
Bennett, Andrew. Keats, Narrative and Audience: The Posthumous Life of Writing. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2006. Print.
Betz, Laura Wells. "Keats and The Charm Of Words: Making Sense Of The Eve Of St.
Agnes." Studies In Romanticism 47.3 (2008): 299-319.
Bloom, Harold. John Keats. New York: Chelsea House, 2007. Print.
Bohm, Arnd. "Hunt's ‘The Descent of Liberty’ and The Seasonal Politics Of Keats's 'To
Autumn'." Romanticism: The Journal of Romantic Culture and Criticism 15.2 (2009): 131-143.
Bohm, Arnd. "Just Beauty: Ovid and The Argument Of Keats's 'Ode On A Grecian Urn'." Modern Language Quarterly: A Journal of Literary History 68.1 (2007): 1-26.
Brennan, Matthew C. "Keats, Turner, and Claudian Landscape: Re-Visioning Lorrain's ‘The
Enchanted Castle.’" CEA Critic: An Official Journal of the College English
Association 73.1 (2010): 64-73.
Burkey, Adam R. "Parkinson's Shaking Palsy: The 'Aspen-Malady' of John Keats." Keats-
Shelley Journal: Keats, Shelley, Byron, Hunt, and Their Circles 57.(2008): 128-137.
Cappeluti, Jo-Anne. "The Failed Reader: Keats's 'Brain-Sick' Endymion." Philosophy and
Literature 36.1 (2012): 96-110.
---. "For the Love of Nothing: Auden, Keats, and Deconstruction." Philosophy
And Literature 33.2 (2009): 345-357.
Castellano, Katey. "'Why Linger at the Yawning Tomb So Long?': The Ethics Of Negative
Capability in Keats's Isabella And Hyperion." Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas 8.1 (2010): 23-38.
Conti Camaiora, Luisa. "Keats's La Belle Dame Sans Merci: The Story of Two
Versions." Anglistica Pisana 2.1-2 (2005): 9-30.
---, and John Keats. Themes and Images in the Sonnets of John Keats. Milano:
EDUCatt, 2010. Print.
Corcoran, Brendan. "Keats's Death: Towards A Posthumous Poetics." Studies in Romanticism
48.2 (2009): 321-348.
Dilworth, Thomas, and Betsy Keating. "Keats's 'On Sitting Down To Read King Lear Once
Again'." Explicator 65.2 (2007): 78-82.
Edgecombe, Rodney Stenning. "Inverted Christian Images in Endymion, Book 3.” Explicator
68.2 (2010): 96-100.
Eisner, Eric. "Disaster Poetics: Keats and Contemporary American Poetry." Wordsworth
Circle 44.2-3 (2013): 153-158.
Elmore, Lauren T. "The Implications Of Immortal Grief In Shelley's Adonais and Keats's The
Fall of Hyperion." Explicator 68.1 (2010): 15-18.
Esterhammer, Angela. "Translating the Elgin Marbles: Byron, Hemans, Keats." Wordsworth
Circle 40.1 (2009): 29-36.
Farnell, Guy. "The Enigma of 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci'." Romanticism: The Journal of
Romantic Culture and Criticism 17.2 (2011): 195-208.
Fermanis, Porsha. "Isabella, Lamia, and 'Merry Old England'." Essays in Criticism: A Quarterly
Journal of Literary Criticism 56.2 (2006): 139-162.
Ferris, Erin. "Owing to Psyche." European Romantic Review 16.4 (2005): 399-415.
Gallant, Christine. Keats and Romantic Celticism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Print.
Gammelgaard, Lasse. "Two Trajectories Of Reader Response In Narrative Poetry: Roses And
Risings in Keats's 'The Eve of St. Agnes'." Narrative 22.2 (2014): 203-218.
Garofalo, Daniela. "'Give Me That Voice Again … Those Looks Immortal': Gaze and Voice In
Keats's 'The Eve Of St. Agnes'." Studies In Romanticism 49.3 (2010): 353-373.
Giovanelli, Marcello. Text World Theory and Keats' Poetry: The Cognitive Poetics of Desire,
Dreams and Nightmares. , 2013. Print.
Gleich, Lewis S. "The Phonetic and Spatial Effects of Discourse in Poetic Narratives: The Case
of Keats's 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci'." Narrative 22.2 (2014): 219-233.
Gonsalves, Joshua D. "The Encrypted Prospect: Existentialist Phenomenology, Deconstruction
and Speculative Realism in 'To Autumn'." European Romantic Review 24.3 (2013): 287-295.
Gotoh, Mie. "'When Sages Looked to Egypt for their Lore': Egyptian Art And the Threat of
Visuality in Keats's Hyperion." Poetica: An International Journal Of Linguistic-Literary
Studies 76.(2011): 51-63.
Grovier, Kelly. "'Paradoxes of the Panoscope': 'Walking' Stewart and The Making of Keats's
Ambivalent Imagination." Romanticism And Victorianism On The Net 52.(2008): MLA International Bibliography. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
Han, Kyoung-Min. "The Urn's 'Silent Form': Keats's Critique of Poetic Judgment." Papers On
Language and Literature: A Journal For Scholars And Critics Of Language And
Literature 48.3 (2012): 245-268.
Hill, Rosemary. "Keats, Antiquarianism, and the Picturesque." Essays in Criticism: A
Quarterly Journal of Literary Criticism 64.2 (2014): 119-137.
Jones, Mark. "Reading Keats to The Letter: E." Studies in Romanticism 51.3 (2012): 343-373.
Keanie, Andrew. John Keats: Against All Doubtings. London: Greenwich Exchange, 2013. Print.
Khalip, Jacques. "Virtual Conduct: Disinterested Agency in Hazlitt and Keats." Elh 73.4 (2006):
Kimberly, Caroline E. "Effeminacy, Masculinity, And Homosocial Bonds: The (Un)Intentional
Queering of John Keats." Romanticism On The Net: An Electronic Journal Devoted To
Romantic Studies 36-37.(2004): MLA International Bibliography. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
Lau, Beth. "Class and Politics in Keats's Admiration of Chatterton." Keats-Shelley Journal:
Keats, Shelley, Byron, Hunt, And Their Circles 53.(2004): 25-38.
---. "Jane Austen and John Keats: Negative Capability, Romance And Reality." Keats-
Shelley Journal: Keats, Shelley, Byron, Hunt, And Their Circles 55.(2006): 81-110.
Lee, Jerry W. "Capital, Class, and Representations Of Isabel/La In John Keats's
'Isabella'." Explicator 70.3 (2012): 183-186.
Linker, Laura Alexander. "Imagining Adam's Dream: Keats's Chamber of Maiden Thought in
‘The Eve Of St. Agnes.’" Miscelánea: A Journal Of English And American Studies 34.(2006): 11-29.
Lodge, Sara. "Contested Bounds: John Clare, John Keats, and The Sonnet." Studies in
Romanticism 51.4 (2012): 533-554.
Loreck, Christoph. Endymion and the "labyrinthian Path to Eminence in Art". Würzburg:
Königshausen & Neumann, 2005. Print.
Lowe, Derek. "Wordsworth's 'Unenlightened Swain': Keats and Greek Myth in 'I Stood Tip-Toe
Upon A Little Hill'." Keats-Shelley Journal: Keats, Shelley, Byron, Hunt, and Their
Circles 57.(2008): 138-156.
MacKenzie, Clayton G. "Ideas of Landscape in John Keats' Teignmouth Poems." Studia Anglica
Posnaniensia: An International Review of English Studies 42.(2006): 501-510.
MacMahon, Barbara. "The Effects of Sound Patterning In Poetry: A Cognitive Pragmatic
Approach." Journal of Literary Semantics36.2 (2007): 103-120.
Mathes, Carmen Faye. "'Let Us Not Therefore Go Hurrying About': Towards an Aesthetics of
Passivity in Keats's Poetics." European Romantic Review 25.3 (2014): 309-318.
McClain, Dana. "Loss and Desire In 'Ode On A Grecian Urn'." Kentucky Philological
Review 27.(2012): 34-42.
Mulrooney, Jonathan. "How Keats Falls." Studies in Romanticism 50.2 (2011): 251-273.
---. "Keats's Avatar." European Romantic Review 22.3 (2011): 313-321.
---. "The Sadness of Avatar." Wordsworth Circle 42.3 (2011): 201-204.
Nanian, Richard. "Positive Ambiguity; Or, Why Keats' 'Lamia' Did Not Become A
Fragment." Prism(S): Essays in Romanticism 15.(2007): 52-84.
O'Gorman, Francis. "Coleridge, Keats, and The Science Of Breathing." Essays in Criticism: A
Quarterly Journal of Literary Criticism61.4 (2011): 365-381.
Ostas, Magdalena. "Keats's Voice." Studies in Romanticism 50.2 (2011): 335-350.
Ou, Li. Keats and Negative Capability. London: Continuum, 2009. Print.
Bari, Shahidha K. Keats and Philosophy: The Life of Sensations. New York: Routledge, 2012.Print.
Plumly, Stanley. "The Odes For Their Own Sake." Kenyon Review 33.4 (2011): 161-166.
---. "This Mortal Body." Kenyon Review 29.3 (2007): 164-202.
Plung, Daniel L. "Keats's 'On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer'." Explicator 62.4 (2004):
Pollack-Pelzner, Daniel. "Revisionary Company: Keats, Homer, and Dante in the Chapman
Sonnet." Keats-Shelley Journal: Keats, Shelley, Byron, Hunt, And Their Circles 56.(2007): 39-49.
Rogers, Kathleen Béres. "Breeding Scorpions In The Brain: Obsession in Keats's ‘Isabella, Or
The Pot of Basil.’" Essays in Romanticism 19.(2012): 33-47.
Rohrbach, Emily. "Reading the Heart, Reading the World: Keats's Historiographical
Aesthetic." European Romantic Review 25.3 (2014): 275-288.
--- and Emily Sun. "Reading Keats, Thinking Politics [Special Issue]." Studies In
Romanticism 50.2 (2011): 229-372.
Rovee, Christopher. "Trashing Keats." Elh 75.4 (2008): 993-1022.
Sandy, Mark. Poetics of Self and Form in Keats and Shelley: Nietzschean Subjectivity and
Genre. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate, 2005. Print.
Śarmā, Rāmavilāsa. Keats and the Pre-Raphaelites. New Delhi: Anamika Publishers &
Distributors, 2005. Print.
Savarese, John. "Psyche's 'Whisp'ring Fan' And Keats's Genealogy Of The Secular." Studies in
Romanticism 50.3 (2011): 389-411.
Scott, Heidi. "Keats's 'Ode To A Nightingale'." Explicator 63.3 (2005): 139-141.
Scott, Matthew. "John Keats and the Aesthetics of Topsy-Turvy." European Romantic
Review 17.2 (2006): 245-254.
Sheley, Erin. "Re-Imagining Olympus: Keats and the Mythology of the Individual
Consciousness." Romanticism And Victorianism On The Net 45.(2007): MLA International Bibliography. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
Shetley, Vernon. "Negative Influence." Genre: Forms of Discourse And Culture 45.1 (2012):
Stillinger, Jack. "Keats and Me." Textual Cultures: Texts, Contexts, Interpretation 3.1 (2008):
Tontiplaphol, Betsy Winakur. "Wherewith They Weave A Paradise: Keats And The Luscious
Poem." Romanticism And Victorianism On The Net 45.(2007): MLA International
Bibliography. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
Towell, Lavaughn. "Effusion Imagery wnd The Elixir Of Life in the Poetry of John
Keats." Interactions: Aegean Journal of English And American Studies/Ege İngiliz Ve
Amerikan İncelemeleri Dergisi 16.1 (2007): 165-173.
Townsend, Ann. "Myopic Keats." Kenyon Review 33.4 (2011): 167-172.
Tso, Yihsuan. "Subversiveness, Fame and the Paine-Burk Debate in Keats's
Odes." Pennsylvania Literary Journal 2.1 (2010): 162-183.
Turley, Richard M. Keats's Boyish Imagination. London: Routledge, 2004. Print.
---, Jayne Elizabeth Archer, and Howard Thomas. "Keats, 'To Autumn',
and the New Men of Winchester."Review Of English Studies 63.262 (2012): 797-817.
Vaibhava, Vijaya. Aesthetic of John Keats: An Indian Approach. New Delhi: Adhyayan
Publishers & Distributors, 2010. Print.
Wunder, Jennifer N. Keats, Hermeticism, and the Secret Societies. Alershot, England: Ashgate,
List of Online Resources:
HOLLIS Keats Collection: Harvard University’s online archive of manuscripts includes an extensive
full-color scans of Keats’s manuscripts including letters, early drafts,
transcriptions, revisions, fragments, and more. It is an excellent resource,
especially as a starting point for those interested in doing textual studies of
Keats’s poetry or performing biographical work on Keats. It is fully accessible
to the public at: http://hollis.harvard.edu
|John Keats by William Hamilton|
Source: National Portrait Gallery, London
MLA International Bibliography: An obvious “go-to” resource for any literary research, this database holds millions of articles and links to books on an impressive range of literary subjects with the major periods and topics of study such as canonical Romantic poets like Keats being particularly full. It is accessible through the TWU Library list of databases.
The Poetry Foundation Website (Publisher of Poetry Magazine): A wonderful resource for students and teachers, the Poetry Foundation’s award-winning website features the work of poets from every period. Keats is well-represented with digital versions of some of his most significant poems, a lengthy biography, and citations of many other resources including biographies and collections of poetry. It is fully accessible to the public at no cost at: http://www.poetryfoundation.org and through a free mobile app (which I highly recommend).
Poets.org: Like The Poetry Foundation, Poets.org is a website dedicated to informing the public on poets and poetry. Poems and information on many poets are available free of charge. The site also has great resources for teachers. The website features a brief biography of Keats, links to some of his poems, and a list of his major works. Accessible at: http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/john-keats
Bartleby.com: An open source literary website, Bartleby.com offers free access to the works of many authors through its digital versions of the Harvard Classics series and The Oxford Shakespeare. A good deal of Keats’ poetry is available and the website is fully searcheable though the editions used are quite dated (mostly late 19th and early 20th century editions) and thus may be lacking in textual integrity. It is fully accessible to the public at http://www.bartleby.com
YouTube: Although, like Wikipedia, YouTube is of questionable accuracy, it does provide access to certain instructional videos such as this clip from a BBC documentary on the Romantic poets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_1aF8IQ7WQ
Works Cited for the Biographical Sketch
“Keats.” The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Ed. Margaret Drabble. Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1985. 526-527. Print.
Wolfson, Susan and Manning, Peter. "John Keats: (1795-1821)." Longman Anthology of British
Literature: The Romantics and their Contemporaries. 5th ed. Ed. David Damrosh, Kevin
J. H. Dettmar, and Amelia Klein. New York: Pearson, 2012. 973-975. Print.
Woof, Robert and Hebron, Stephen. John Keats. Grasmere, Cumbria (UK): The Wordsworth
Trust, 1995. Print
Kelvin, Everest. “Keats, John (1795–1821).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford
University Press Online. May 2006. Accessed October 13, 2014.