Who is John Keats?

John Keats' work is associated with the Romantic movement, a cultural movement that emphasized emotion and passion over rational thought.
Lord Byron was a contemporary of John Keats.
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  • Written By: Kathy Hawkins
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Images By: Books18, Georgios Kollidas
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2014
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John Keats was a well-known and talented English poet who lived from 1795 to 1821. Despite his short lifetime, he is one of the world's most popular poets of all time, and his work has been anthologized in many books and educational texts throughout the world.

Born in London, Keats endured a series of great tragedies from a young age. His father died in 1804, after falling from a horse; his mother passed away only six years later from tuberculosis. Keats was only 15 years old, at the time but he became the primary caregiver for his younger brother, Tom. Sadly, Tom also suffered from tuberculosis, and died from the disease in 1818. Two years later, Keats was diagnosed with tuberculosis. On his doctor's advice, he moved from London to Italy, which he hoped would help to restore his heath. Unfortunately, he did not recover from the disease; he died of tuberculosis in 1821.

Although John Keats was only 25 at the time of his death, he left behind a sophisticated and large body of work. He was highly influenced by the work of 16th century English poet Edmund Spencer; Spencer's The Faerie Queen was his favorite work. Keats' work is associated with the Romantic movement, a cultural movement that emphasized emotion and passion over rational thought. Other members of the Romantic movement included fellow writers such as Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, as well as painter and writer William Blake.


One of John Keats' major works is an epic poem called "Endymion," which is based upon a Greek myth about a shepherd's love for the goddess of the moon. This poem was one of his earliest works, and received a generally poor critical reception, though it showed signs of his talent. He followed the epic poem with a series of "odes," or poems addressed to a specific person or object. Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn," written in 1819, is often considered to be one of the greatest works in English literature.

Since his death, Keats has served as a great inspiration to many writers and creative individuals, including Oscar Wilde and William Butler Yeats. His influence has even spread to the music world; the Smiths singer, Morrissey, includes a reference to John Keats in the band's song, "Cemetery Gates."


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