CHAPTER I: 1795-1815: BIRTH AND PARENTAGE: SCHOOLDAYS AND APPRENTICESHIP
Obscure family history– The Finsbury livery stable– The surname Keats– Origin probably Cornish– Character of parents– Traits of childhood– The Enfield School– The Edmonton home– The Pymmes Brook– Testimonies of schoolmates– Edward Holmes– Charles Cowden Clarke– New passion for reading– Left an orphan– Apprenticed to a surgeon– Relations with his master– Readings in the poets– The Faerie Queen– The Spenser fever– Other poetic influences– Influences of nature– Early attempts in verse– Early sympathizers– George Felton Mathew– Move to London.
CHAPTER II: OCTOBER 1815-MARCH 1817: HOSPITAL STUDIES: POETICAL AMBITIONS: LEIGH HUNT
Hospital days: Summary– Aptitudes and ambitions– Teachers– Testimony of Henry Stephens– Pride and other characteristics– Evidences of a wandering mind– Services of Cowden Clarke– Introduction to Leigh Hunt– Summer walks at Hampstead– Holiday epistles from Margate– Return to London– First reading of Chapman’s Homer-Date of the Chapman sonnet– Intimacy with Leigh Hunt– The Examiner: Hunt’s imprisonment– His visitors in captivity– His occupations– The Feast of the poets– Hunt’s personality and charm– His ideas of poetical reform– The story of Rimini– Its popularity– Dante and namby-pamby– Hunt’s life at Hampstead– Hunt and Keats compared– Keats at Hunt’s cottage– Prints in the library– The intercoronation scene-Sonnets of Hunt to Keats– Sonnets of Keats to Hunt– Keats’s penitence.
CHAPTER III: WINTER 1816-1817: HAYDON: OTHER NEW FRIENDSHIPS: THE DIE CAST FOR POETRY
Haydon and the Elgin marbles– Haydon as painter and write– Vanity, pugnacity, and piety– Haydon on Leigh Hunt– Keats and Haydon meet– An enthusiastic friendship– Keats and the Elgin marbles-Sonnets and protestations– Hazlitt and Lamb– Friendship of Hunt and Shelley– Lamb and Hazlitt on Shelley– Haydon and Shelley: a battle royal– Keats and Shelley– A cool relation–J ohn Hamilton Reynolds– His devotion to Keats– The Reynolds sisters– James Rice– Charles Wells–William Haslam– Joseph Severn– Keats judged by his circle– Described by Severn– His range of sympathies– His poetic ambition– The die is cast– First volume goes to press.
CHAPTER IV: THE ‘POEMS’ OF 1817
Spirit and chief contents of the volume– Sonnets and timed heroics-The Chapman sonnet– The ‘How many bards’ sonnet– The sexchivalry group– The Leigh Hunt group– The Haydon pair– The Leander sonnet– Epistles– History of the ‘heroic’ couplet– The closed and free systems– Marlowe– Drayton–William Browne-Chapman and Sandys– Decay of the free system– William Chamberlayne– Milton and Marvell–Waller– Katherine Phillips–Dryden-Pope and his ascendency– Reaction: The Brothers Warton-Symptoms of Emancipation– Coleridge, Wordsworth and Scott-Leigh Hunt and couplet reform– Keats to Mathew: influence of Browne– Calidore: influence of Hunt–Epistle to George Keats-Epistle to Cowden Clarke–Sleep and Poetry and I stood tip-toe– Analysis of Sleep and Poetry– Double invocation– Vision of the Charioteer-Battle-cry of the new poetry– Its strength and weakness– Challenge and congratulation– Encouragements acknowledged– Analysis of I stood tip-toe– Intended induction to Endymion– Relation to Elizabethans– Relation to contemporaries–Wordsworth and Greek Mythology– Tintern Abbey and the three stages– Contrastas of method-Evocation versus Exposition.
CHAPTER V: APRIL-DECEMBER 1817: WORK ON ENDYMION
‘Poems’ fall flat– Reviews by Hunt and others– Change of publishers-New friends: Bailey and Woodhouse — Begins Endymion at Carisbrooke– Moves to Margate– Hazlitt and Southey– Hunt and Haydon– Ambition and self-doubt– Stays at Canterbury– Joins brothers at Hampstead– Dilke and Brown– Visits Bailey at Oxford– Work on Endymion — Bailey’s testimony– Talk on Wordsworth– Letters from Oxford– To his sister Fanny– To Jane and J. H. Reynolds-Return to Hampstead– Friends at loggerheads– Stays at Burford Bridge– Correspondence– Confessions– Speculations– Imagination and truth– Composes various lyrics– ‘O love me truly’– ‘In drear-nighted December’– Dryden and Swinburne — Endymion finished– An Autumnal close– Return to Hampstead.
CHAPTER VI: ENDYMION.–I. THE STORY: ITS SOURCES, PLAN, AND SYMBOLISM
Invention and imagination– What the moon meant to Keats– Elizabethan Precedents– Fletcher and Drayton– Drayton’s two versions– Debt of Keats to Drayton– Strain of allegory–T he Soul’s quest for beauty-Phantasmagoric adventures– The four elements theory– Its error-Book I. The exordium– The forest scene– Confession to Peona– Her expostulation– Endymion’s defence– The ascending scale– The highest hope— Book II. The praise of love– Underworld marvels– The awakening of Adonis– Embraces in the Jasmine Bower– The quest renewed– New sympathies awakened– Book III. Exordium–Encounter with Glaucus– Glaucus relates his doom– The predestined deliverer– The deliverance– Meaning of the Parable– Its machinery explained– The happy sequel– Book IV. Address to the Muse– The Indian damsel– An ethereal flight– Olympian visions– Descent and renunciation– Distressful farewells– The mystery solved– A chastened victory– Above analysis justified.
CHAPTER VII: ENDYMION.–II. THE POETRY: ITS QUALITIES AND AFFINITIES
Revival of Elizabethan usages– Avoidance of closed couplets– True metrical instincts– An example– Rime too much his master– Lax use of words– Flaws of taste and training– Faults and beauties inseparable — Homage to the moon– A parallel from Drayton– Examples of nature poetry– Nature and the Greek spirit– Greek mythology revitalize — Its previous deadness– Poetry of love and war– Dramatic promise — Comparison with models– Sandys Ovid–Hymn to Pan: Chapman– Ben Jonson– The hymn in Endymion- -‘A pretty piece of paganism’ — Song of the Indian maiden– The triumph of Bacchus– A composite: its sources– English scenery and detail– Influence of Wordsworth-Influence of Shelley– Endymion and Alastor– Correspondences and contrasts– Hymn to Intellectual Beauty– Shelley on Endymion– Keats and Clarence’s dream– Shelley a borrower– Shelley and the rimed couplet.
CHAPTER VIII: DECEMBER 1817-JUNE 1818: HAMPSTEAD AND TEIGNMOUTH: EMIGRATION OF GEORGE KEATS
Hampstead again: stage criticism– Hazlitt’s lectures– Life at Well Walk
— Meeting with Wordsworth– The ‘immortal dinner’– Lamb forgets himself– More of Wordsworth– A happy evening — Wordsworth on Bacchus- Disillusion and impatience– Winter letters– Maxims and reflections– Quarrels among friends– Haydon, Hunt and Shelley– A prolific February– Rants and sonnets– A haunting memory– Six weeks at Teignmouth– Soft weather and soft men– Isabella or the Pot of Basil — Rich correspondence– Epistle to Reynolds– Thirst for knowledge– Need of experience– The two chambers of thought– Summer plans– Preface to Endymion — A family break-up– To Scotland with Brown.
CHAPTER IX: JUNE TO AUGUST 1818: THE SCOTTISH TOUR
First sight of Windermere– Ambleside, Rydal, Keswick– Attitude towards scenery– Ascent of Skiddaw– A country dancing-school– Dumfries– The Galloway coast– Meg Merrilies– Flying visit to Belfast– Contrasts and reflections– The Duchess of Dunghill–The Ayrshire coast– In Burns’s cottage– Lines on his pilgrimage– Through Glasgow to Loch Lomond– A confession– Loch Awe to the coast– Hardships– Kerrera and Mull– Staffa– A sea cathedral– Ben Nevis– Tour cut short– Return to Hampstead.
CHAPTER X: SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER 1818: BLACKWOOD AND THE QUARTERLY
Blackwood Edinburgh Magazine– Partisan excesses– Wild inconsistency — Virulences of first number– The ‘Z’ papers and Leigh Hunt– Blackwood and Walter Scott– The Chaldee Manuscript– Scott warning to Lockhart– Lockhart and Keats-‘Z’ on Endymion– A lesson to critics– Marks of Lockhart hand– The Quarterly on Endymion– Indignant friends: Bailey–Reynolds–Woodhouse and Taylor — Keats’s composure under attack– Subsequent effects– Tom Keats in extremis– Three months by the sick-bed– First Journal-letter to America– Dread of love and marriage– Death of Tom Keats.
CHAPTER XI: DECEMBER 1818-JUNE 1819: KEATS AND BROWN HOUSEMATES: FANNY BRAWNE: WORK AND IDLENESS
Removal to Wentworth Place,– Work on Hyperion — The insatiable Haydon — The Misses Porter– A mingled yarn– Charles Lamb and punning-Hunt and his satellites– Fanny Brawne– A sudden enslavement- Severn’s impressions– Visit to Hampshire– The Eve of St. Agnes – Return and engagement– Ode to Fanny– Love and jealousy– Haydon again– Letters to Fanny Keats– Two months’ idleness– Praise of claret– Bailey’s love-affairs– Fit of languor– Fight with a butcher-boy — Sonnet-confessions– Reflectiorm ethical and cosmic– Meeting with Coleridge– The same according to the sage– A tactful review– Sonnets on fame– La Belle Dame Sans Merci — The right version quoted– The five Odes– Their date and order– A fruitful May– Indecision and anxiety– A confidential letter– Departure for Shanklin.
CHAPTER XII: JUNE 1819-JANUARY 1820: SHANKLIN, WINCHESTER, HAMPSTEAD: TROUBLE AND HEALTH FAILURE
Work on Otho and Lamia –Letters to Fanny Brawne–Keats as lover-An imagined future–Change to Winchester–Work and fine weather –Ill news from George–A run to town–A talk with Woodhouse-Woodhouse as critic–Alone at Winchester–Spirited letters: to his brother–To Reynolds, Brown, and Dilke–Hopes and resolutions-Will work for the press–Attempt and breakdown–Return to Wentworth Place–Morning and evening tasks–Cries of passion–Signs of despondency–Testimony of Brown–Haydon’s exaggerations-Schemes and doings–Visit of George Keats–Pleasantry and bitterness–Beginning of the end.
CHAPTER XIII: WORK OF 1818, 1819.–I. THE ACHIEVEMENTS
Minor achievements– Bards of Passion and of Mirth — Fancy –The tales- Isabella –Story and metre–Influence of Chaucer–Apostrophes and invocations–Horror turned to beauty–The digging scene–Its quality — The Eve of St Agnes –Variety of sources– Boccaccio Filocolo -Poetic scope and method–Examples–The unrobing scene–The feast of fruits–A rounded close– Lamia –Sources: and a comparison-Metre and quality–Beauties and faults–Perplexing moral–The sage denounced: why?–Comments of Leigh Hunt–The odes: To Psyche -Sources: Burton and Apuleius–Qualities: A questionable claim- On Indollence — On a Grecian Urn –Sources: A composite–Spheres of art and life contrasted–Play between the two spheres–The Nightingale ode– Ode on Melancholy –A grand close–The last of the odes– To Autumn.
CHAPTER XIV: WORK OF 1818, 1819 CONTINUED: THE FRAGMENTS AND EXPERIMENTS
Snatches expressive of moods–Ode to Maia–Hyperion: its scheme and scale–Sources: Homer and Hesiod–Pierre Ronsard–Miltonisms-Voices of the Titans–A match and no match for Milton–A great beginning–Question as to sequel–Difficulties and a suggestion–The scheme abandoned–The Eve of St Mark–Chaucer and Morris-Judgement of Rossetti–Dissent of W. B. Scott–The solution–Keats as dramatist–Otho and King Stephen–The Cap and Bells–Why a failure–Flashes of Beauty–Recast of Hyperion–Its leading ideas-Their history in Keats’s mind–Preamble: another feast of fruits-The sanctuary–The admonition–The monitress–The attempt breaks off.
CHAPTER XV: FEBRUARY-AUGUST 1820: HAMPSTEAD AND KENTISH TOWN: PUBLICATION OF LAMIA VOLUME
Letters from the sick-bed–To Fanny Brawne–To James Rice–Barry Cornwall–Hopes of returning health–Haydon’s private view-Improvement not maintained–Summer at Kentish Town–Kindness of Leigh Hunt–Misery and jealousy–Severn and Mrs Gisborne-Invitation from Shelley– Keats on The Cenci –La Belle Dame published–A disfigured version–The Lamia volume published– Charles Lamb’s appreciation– The New Monthly –Other favourable reviews-Taylor and Blackwood– A skirmish — Impenitence — And impertinence — Jeffrey in the Edinburgh –Appreciation full though tardy–Fury of Byron– Shelley on Hyperion –And on– Keats in general– Impressions of Crabb Robinson.
CHAPTER XVI: AUGUST 1820-FEBRUARY 1821: VOYAGE TO ITALY: LAST DAYS AND DEATH AT ROME
Resolve to winter in Italy–Severn as companion–The ‘ Maria Crowther’ –Fellow passengers–Storm in the Channel–Held up in the Solent-Landing near Lulworth–The ‘Bright Star’ sonnets–The voyage resumed–A meditated poem–Incidents at sea–Quarantine at Naples –Letters from Keats and Haslam–Lady passengers described–A cry of agony–Neapolitan impressions–On the road to Rome–Life at Rome–Apparent improvement–Relapse and despair–Severn’s ministrations–His letters from the sickroom–The same continued –Tranquil last days–Choice of epitaph–Spirit of charm and
CHAPTER XVII: EPILOGUE
Hopes and fears at home– Fanny Brawne: Leigh Hunt–Supposed effect of review–Shelley misled and inspired– Adonais –A Blackwood Parody–False impressions confirmed–Death of Shelley–Hazlitt and Severn–Brown at Florence–Inscription for Keat’s grave–Severn and Walter Scott–Slow growth of Keat’s fame–Its beginnings at Cambridge–Opinion in the early ‘forties–Would-be biographers at odds–Taylor and Brown: Brown and Dilke–A solution: Monckton Milnes–The old circle: Hunt and Haydon–John Hamilton Reynolds –Haslam, Severn, Bailey–Flaws and slips in Milnes’s work–Its merit and timeliness–Its reception–The Pre-Raphaelites–Rossetti and Morris–The battle won: Later critics–Keats and Shelley–Pitfalls and prejudices–Arnold and Palgrave–Mr. Buxton Forman and others–Latest eulogists–Risks to permanence of fame–His will conquer– Youth and its storms–The might-have-been–Guesses and a certainty.