A Brief Biography of John Keats

By Tim Lambert

His Early Life

John Keats was one of England’s greatest poets. He was born in London on 31 October 1795. His father Thomas Keats was an innkeeper. His mother was called Frances. The couple had 5 children. In 1803 John Keats went to Clarke’s School in Enfield.

However, in 1804 tragedy struck when his father was killed by falling off a horse. His mother quickly remarried. However, she soon separated from her new husband. John Keats then went to live with his grandmother. John was reconciled with his mother by 1809 but by then she was ill. She died in 1810.

The Great Poet

In 1810 John left school and in 1811 he was apprenticed to a surgeon and apothecary in Edmonton. As a teenager, Keats became passionately fond of poetry and when he was about 18 he wrote his first poem, one entitled ‘Imitation of Spenser’.

In 1815 John became a student at Guy’s Hospital in London. But he continued to write poetry. In 1816 he had a poem published for the first time, in a magazine called The Examiner. It was a sonnet called ‘O Solitude!’. Also in 1816, Keats passed his exams. Then in 1817, he published a book called ‘Poems’. However, it was not a success, attracting little interest.

Nevertheless, Keats continued writing. His epic poem Endymion was published in 1818. During 1818-1819 Keats continued to write great poems including ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, ‘Hyperion’, ‘The Eve of St Agnes’, and ‘Ode to Autumn’.

However, in 1820 Keats fell ill with tuberculosis. He went to Italy in the hope that the climate might help. Nevertheless, John Keats died in Rome on 23 February 1821. He was only 25. Keats was buried in the Protestant cemetery.

Last revised 2023