Keats & Fanny: A fashionable affair | Express Yourself | Comment | kinenbicounter.info
John Keats, in a letter to his brother George, September .. RH Stoddard on the publication of Keats's love letters to Fanny Brawne, April Keats and . Originally written May Throughout most of his life John Keats was confused by women, and saw little value in love and marriage. All this. the love affair between John Keats and Fanny Brawne, Penguin has But whatever Keats' other loves may have been, it's his relationship.
As Hampstead was close to an army barracks, there were numerous military dances throughout the year. Fanny was a popular participant. When they first met, Keats was struck by her coquettish sense of fun, and it later pricked his jealousy too often for comfort. The little rooms at Well Walk, once the scene of close companionship for the Keats brothers, were now haunted with disappointment, despair and grief.
When Tom died on 1 December, Keats was worn and numb. But he at least had a welcome distraction in Fanny Brawne. Since he now lived next door to the Dilkes, Keats visited with more frequency. And each time, the brown-haired, blue-eyed Fanny made a greater impression. She both confused and exasperated Keats, and therein lay her attraction. He simply could not understand her. Its contents spanned a fortnight and Fanny is notably mentioned: She is a very nice woman and her daughter senior is I think beautiful, elegant, graceful, silly, fashionable and strange.
We have a little tiff now and then — and she behaves a little better, or I must have sheered off. Keats was able to occasionally dismiss Fanny from his mind. Poetry had once more become a consuming passion. But it would only be a matter of time before both Fanny and poetry occupied positions of equal importance in his life. Though she read his work, and admired it, she did not participate in its creation. Miniature oil portrait of John Keats, Throughout the winter ofKeats worked for hours at his desk in Hampstead.
And Keats also worked on the ambitious Hyperion until early spring, leaving it deliberately unfinished. On 3 Aprilhe was suddenly forced into even closer quarters with the baffling Miss Brawne. The Dilkes decided to move to the city center and rented their half of Wentworth Place to Mrs Brawne and her children.
Fanny was now a next door neighbor and her presence came close to intoxicating Keats. From April onward, their romance blossomed. Keats would interrupt his serious poetry to write quick sonnets to Fanny, including the famous Bright Star, would I were steadfast as thou art.
Most of these works dwell upon her physical charms, but they also celebrate the enjoyment and abandon he found in her company. It was inevitable that his first love affair would consume him. In turn, he was given new impetus, — new inspiration, — new insight into his own emotions and the world itself.
His poetry began to reflect this new maturity and power. The story of an enchantress and the knight she lures to his doom, it is an evocative and beautiful work, justly celebrated. But even it gives no hint of the great works to come; Keats himself considered it mere light verse and, in a letter to George, dismissed it with a joke. Then, in the space of a few weeks, he composed three of the most beautiful works of poetry ever written — Ode on a Grecian Urn, Ode to a Nightingale and Ode on Melancholy.
But this vindication of his early promise did not result in immediate acclaim. There was no fanfare, or even immediate publication. Keats was a kind and intelligent young man, but he was poor and his chosen career offered little hope of success. But her own good nature could not prevent a love match. She grew fond of the poet and later nursed him through his illness. But Brown was not happy about the relationship.
They noticed her teasing behavior and the depression and jealousy it aroused in Keats. Distracted by such antics, how could Keats write? For his part, Keats was not unaware of their friendly concern but knew himself too well to be bothered. He continued writing, completing the Ode on Indolence probably in early June. Its epigraph is from Matthew 6: Neither Poetry, nor Ambition, nor Love have any alertness of countenance as they pass by me: This is the only happiness; and is a rare instance of advantage in the body overpowering the Mind.
When summer finally arrived, Keats had gone through a period of sustained achievement. The pressing problem of money could not be forgotten, of course, and it drove him to Shanklin in the Isle of Wight for the summer. The holiday in cheap lodgings saved money but it also allowed the poet uninterrupted time to write.
He worked on part one of Lamia and Otho the Great, a play which Brown encouraged as a way for he and Keats to enter the playwriting business. It was their hope that plays might be more profitable than poetry. The treatment of sexuality is also striking.
Here he wrote the second part of Lamia and the beautiful ode To Autumn. He returned to Hampstead in October and was soon officially engaged to Fanny. She was still a tease and deliberately stoked his jealousy. The poet remained torn between his work and his love. The holiday peace which had aided his poetry disappeared the moment he saw Fanny.
Marriage was now their only option. The prospect of marriage brought fresh scrutiny of his financial woes. He had to make money from writing; even a small success would be welcome. He met with his publishers again in November and plans were made for another book of poems. Keats also borrowed numerous works of sixteenth-century history from Taylor to research the Earl of Leicester. He now intended to become a playwright like his idol, using the years of poetry as a school of sorts, preparation for the real achievements which lay ahead.
The end result was very little and Keats gave most of it to George. There was a new distance between the brothers. Though younger, George was married and settling into his own business while Keats could not afford to marry Fanny.
In Februaryhowever, their future was threatened by something more ominous than poverty. The month had begun badly, with a portent of worse to come. The occasional sore throat and cough which had troubled him was still dismissed as a mere cold, but a new tightness in his chest had begun. And on 3 February, Keats had his first lung hemorrhage.
The story of this tragic event was later recalled by Charles Brown, who never forgot it. As it was cheapest to ride outside the stagecoach, he did so, but he lacked a warm coat and the night was bitterly cold and windy. His friend immediately realized Keats was ill and sent him upstairs to bed. Brown then brought him a glass of spirits. As he entered the room, he heard Keats cough. It was just a slight cough, but Keats said: I cannot be deceived in that color.
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That drop of blood is my death warrant. Later that evening there was a second hemorrhage, far greater and more dangerous than the first. This was typical of tubercular patients and the second bleeding was often fatal. Keats could not help but cough violently. The cough, in turn, enlarged the area of bleeding and the spread of blood into his mouth was so sudden and thick that he thought he would die then.
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George had not even visited Fanny while in England, but Keats thought of her often. Now that he was ill and reflective, he felt guilty for not visiting her more. He kept both she and Fanny Brawne apprised of his illness, though he was careful to be cheerful and light-hearted. He was being treated by the surgeon GR Rodd, whom Brown had summoned that fateful night.
Rodd prescribed a light diet and bleeding. Keats noted the weakness caused by the bleeding, but followed orders. At this point, he feared the worst but tried to believe the best. It had been an unusually cold winter; many of his friends had fallen ill. Perhaps there was a possibility he would recover. But the weakness which had settled into him was too pervasive and heavy; it laid upon him. Within a week, he could only manage a quarter of an hour in the garden. And his medical training countered any optimism; he had bled so heavily that first night that his lungs must be damaged.
It was realistically impossible to believe otherwise. There was no hope for it and so he wrote to Fanny, telling her she was free to break their engagement. She passionately refused and Keats could not deny his relief: Keats was to avoid any heightened emotion, any upset. It was Charles Brown who nursed him diligently, doing his best to keep the poet calm and Fanny safely next door. Keats wrote to his friend James Rice, who had also experienced serious illness: Like poor Falstaff, though I do not babble, I think of green fields.
I muse with the greatest affection on every flower I have known from my infancy — their shapes and colours are as new to me as if I had just created them with a superhuman fancy -…. It is because they are connected with the most thoughtless and happiest moments of our Lives. And his publisher John Taylor pushed him to select and revise poems for the press.
Keats turned to the task with some of his old enthusiasm. But this proved to be too much for his precarious health. The contrast between the powerful writing of a mere few months before with his now weakened and helpless state depressed him. It could not be otherwise.
His ill health, the endless fever and weakness, could not be ignored. His housemaid was pregnant with his child and he did not want female visitors to his home. But Fanny, who quickly realized the situation, was determined to visit Keats. She did so as often as possible and, against the advice of her mother, sent him a brief note every night.
The emotional situation would have been difficult even for someone in perfect health. But on 6 March, Keats had a new and dangerous symptom. That night, he experienced violent palpitations of the heart. Rodd recommended a specialist, Dr Robert Bree, who declared Keats to be suffering from a primarily hysterical illness. He did not dismiss the earlier bleeding, but believed it was caused by anxiety.
Fanny might behave as light-hearted and free as before she met Keats, yet her newest admirer was quite different from the others. He had close experience with tubercular patients and extensive medical knowledge of his own. But Bree removed him from the starvation diet, prescribing wine and meat to build strength.
He also gave Keats sedatives for his anxiety, primarily opium. This helped ease the pain and tightness of his chest. With a normal diet and pain medication, Keats regained some of his old strength. He was able to work on the volume of poems for Taylor and passed some two months of relative peace. His letters to Fanny were more confident and playful.
Brown typically rented out his home during the summer when rents were highest. He was especially eager to do so that summer since the impending birth of his child and support for its mother put a strain on his finances.
He cast about for somewhere for Keats to stay, and it was Leigh Hunt who came to the rescue. But he also realized that everyone, including Keats, had committed to pretending that Keats was not truly ill, and rest and emotional tranquility would cure him. It was also still close to town, so that Keats could continue to advise Taylor and Hessey on his book. Hunt promised to keep close watch upon his friend.
Brown then left for Scotland, with Keats accompanying him to Gravesend. The two friends never met again. The new lodgings had one unbearable defect for Keats — they lacked Fanny. She was just a mile away, but it might as well have been ten miles.
During his illness at Hampstead, even when apart, he could still glimpse her occasionally, going about her errands. And they had met quite often and exchanged notes. Now she was too far away to glimpse or hear. Her mother came to check on him, but we have no evidence that Fanny came. Keats himself returned to Wentworth Place just once, to pick up letters for Brown.
The strain of seeing Fanny and then parting was too great. He wondered ceaselessly if her feelings had changed, if she still loved him, and his emotional distress was exacerbated by his physical decline. His long-standing distrust of women, his disdain for their flirtatious and teasing behavior, reawakened old suspicions. He now played the role of jealous lover. His mood darkened so that even occasional visits to town went badly.
The young artist Joseph Severn paid the most visits to Keats. He could not bear it, and wrote accusatory letters to her. Fanny responded with lively good sense and Keats was soon contrite. He spent June correcting the proofs of his new book. On 22 June, a letter arrived from his sister Fanny; there was a new problem with the Abbeys.
Keats prepared to visit but, on the way to the town coach, a new fit of bleeding occurred. Dr Bree was wrong after all.
This was not a nervous condition, but a real and serious physical problem. With a mouth full of blood, he returned to his rooms. Mr Keats was introduced to us the same evening; he had lately been ill also, and spoke but little; the Endymion was not mentioned, this person might not be its author; but on observing his countenance and his eyes I persuaded myself that he was the very person.
We talked of music, and of Italian and English singing; I mentioned that Farinelli had the art of taking breath imperceptibly, while he continued to hold one single note, alternately swelling out and diminishing the power of his voice like waves.
Keats observed that this must in some degree be painful to the hearer, as when a diver descends into the hidden depths of the sea you feel an apprehension lest he may never rise again. These may not be his exact words as he spoke in a low tone. He had a second and far more dangerous hemorrhage. His landlady summoned Hunt and Keats was moved to the Hunt household. Dr George Darling was summoned to his bedside. Darling believed Keats was consumptive, and he prescribed the same light diet and blood-letting as Rodd.
But now regular bleeding and a scanty diet took their toll upon his failing health.
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Hunt attempted to lift his spirits but it was hopeless. His household — five unruly children and a sick wife — was too noisy and troublesome. I am sickened at the brute world which you are smiling with. I would show some one in Love as I am, with a person living in such Liberty as you do. The book was printed in the last week of June and was a far greater success than his earlier work. Indeed, its reception was as positive as any poet could wish.
His friends had long suggested a trip to Italy to recover his health. It has first been viewed as a chance to calm his spirits and allow needed rest. But now it was recognized as a last chance at recovery. Such trips to warmer climates were common for tubercular patients.
A letter from Fanny was mistakenly opened before being given to Keats. He was immediately and irrationally upset; he cried for hours and told a shocked Hunt that his heart was breaking.
His battle with the world had finally broken his spirit. Keats left for Hampstead, walking along Well Walk and past the rooms where Tom had died. He was glimpsed at the end of the street, sobbing into his handkerchief. He was so ill, exhausted, and emaciated that Mrs Brawne flouted society and admitted him. He would spend the next month there and later say it was the happiest time of his life. That weekend he sent an apology to Hunt and notes to his sister and Taylor.
In this way, he hoped to settle his debts with both men. Taylor was generous as always, and more than eager to help Keats. He researched the matter and found that Rome was the best place for medical care. A kind Scottish doctor, James Clark, practiced there and Taylor could write ahead to secure his services. Clark already owned Endymion and the volume of poems. He knew of and admired Keats. The success of the last volume of poems allowed Taylor to advance money for the trip.
He visited Keats on Friday, 18 August and they discussed matters. Keats both dreaded and anticipated the trip. He did not dare believe he would return. The parting from Fanny, with whom he now lived, would be heartbreaking. He wrote to Brown, asking his closest friend to accompany him to Rome. Some biographers have implied that Brown refused, remaining in Scotland until it was too late to accompany Keats.
In truth, he left Scotland early and hurried back to London only to discover his friend already departed. Whether he wrote to Keats to accept his offer, we do not know. The journey was made more pressing by the end of August. Keats had another severe hemorrhage and was now confined to bed, nursed diligently by Fanny.
In a letter to Bailey the Clergyman Keats writes, I am certain I have not a right feeling towards Women — at this moment I am striving to be just to them but I cannot — …When I was a Schoolboy I thought a fair Woman a pure Goddess… I thought them ethereal above Men — I find them perhaps equal — great by comparison is very small … When among Men I have not evil thoughts, no malice, no spleen — I feel free to speak or to be silent — I can listen and from every one I can learn…When I am among Women I have evil thoughts, malice, spleen — I cannot speak or be silent — I am full of Suspicions and therefore listen to no thing — I am in a hurry to be gone…Yet with such feelings I am happier alone among Crowds of men, by myself or with a friend or two … an obstinate Prejudice can seldom be produced but from a Gordian complication of feelings… Keats, John.
Selected Letter of John Keats. Harvard University Press, The simple ability to have a conversation with Fanny Brawne made her a woman unlike any other that Keats had met. Fanny Brawne was a woman unlike others, and this difference is what attracted Keats and made her someone he could talk to.
Despite this unusual ability to have a discussion with Fanny Brawne their relationship was not without its share of problems. She wants sentiment in every feature. She manages to make her hair look well; her nostrils are fine, though a little painful. Her mouth is bad and good; her Profile is better than her full-face which indeed is not full but pale and thin without showing any bone.
Keats & Fanny: A fashionable affair
Her shape is very graceful and so are her movements. Her Arms are good, her hands baddish, her feet tolerable… she is ignorant, monstrous in her behavior, flying out in all directions, calling people such names that I was forced lately to make use of the term Minx Keats. He really saw little purpose in love, and found it to be tedious. Keats was so against the idea and result of love that he thought it and the reactions it produced in others to be simply laughable.
Just a month later this same man was writing to Fanny Brawne about how consumed he was with her; one of those laughable side effects of love that he previously mocked.
I was in complete fascination all day. Already it is getting a little thick with love talk. The Letters of John Keats.
So not only is he guilty of his prior labeled silly behavior, but he feels so strongly about her that if he were to lose her love it would test his very will to go on living. From this point forward the relationship between John Keats and Fanny Brawne blossomed. Keats and Miss Brawne were in love, but there were pressing matters that needed attention. First of all there was the issue of money. Around the same time Keats started writing and publishing poetry and eventually gave up his career as a surgeon and began to write and live off his poetry in earnest.
Unfortunately, the money that trickled in from his poetry was a meager allowance and prevented him from fully realizing his dreams and goals.