31 October, John Keats is born, the first child of Thomas and Frances Keats. His birthplace is unknown.
18 December, John is baptized at St Botolph’s, Bishopsgate
28 February, George Keats born
18 November, Tom Keats born
28 April, Edward Keats born (dies in 1802)
December, the Keats family moves to the Swan and Hoop inn and stables, 24 Moorfields Pavement Row on London Wall. This business belongs to Keats’s grandfather; he retires in 1802 and asks Thomas and Frances Keats to take over the business.
3 June, Frances Mary (Fanny) Keats born
John enters John Clarke’s School at Enfield, which he attends until 1811. He becomes life-long friends with the headmaster’s son, Charles Cowden Clark, who is eight years older. George enters with him; Tom arrives later.
15 April, John’s father has a riding accident on his way home from visiting John and George at Enfield; he dies the following day. John’s mother disappears briefly after the death.
27 June, John’s mother marries William Rawlings. John and his brothers now spend school holidays at their grandparents’ home in Ponders End near Enfield.
8 March, John’s grandfather dies. A lawsuit begins over his will. Months later, John’s mother disappears again. (This lawsuit, and its attendant stress upon the family, led to Keats’s chronic anxiety over money; he was both embarrassed and intimidated by most financial matters.)
John’s 69 year old grandmother moves to Church Street in Edmonton, taking her grandchildren with her.
John continues his education at Enfield. He becomes closer friends with Clarke. He is prone to fits of temper; a schoolmate remembers him as ‘ardent and imaginative’.
In early 1809, after a 3 and a half year absence, John’s mother visits the house in Edmonton, asking whether she can live with her mother and children. John’s grandmother agrees.
John’s mother is ill with rheumatism and tuberculosis. He nurses her, as BR Haydon described in his diary: ‘Before his mother died, during her last illness, his devoted attachment interested all. He sat up whole nights in a great chair, would suffer nobody to give her medicine but himself, and even cooked her food; he did all, & read novels in her intervals of ease.’ When he returns to Enfield, he is far more committed to his studies and begins to read voraciously.
The second week of March, John’s mother dies of tuberculosis. She is buried on 20 March. John receives the news at Enfield and is overcome with grief.
July, Richard Abbey and John Sandell are appointed guardians of the Keats children.
The mid-summer term is John’s last at Enfield; he is taken from school and apprenticed to the apothecary Dr Hammond of Edmonton. Clarke describes the next few years of training as ‘the most placid time in [Keats’s] painful life.’ He visits Clarke several times a month and continues his literary studies.
George also leaves Enfield and becomes an apprentice in Abbey’s business. Tom remains at Enfield.
Clarke loans John a copy of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. John ‘went through it as a young horse would through a spring meadow – ramping! Like a true poet, too – a poet “born, not manufactured”, a poet in grain, he especially singled out epithets, for that felicity and power in which Spenser is so eminent. He hoisted himself up, and looked burly and dominant, as he said, “what an image that is – sea-shouldering whales!”‘ John later comes to read Shakespeare.
Clarke, meanwhile, attempts to establish himself as a poet. He discusses the work of Leigh Hunt with John but does not introduce the two men.
Early in the year, John writes his first poems, ‘Imitation of Spenser’ and ‘On Peace’. In August, he writes ‘Fill for me a brimming bowl’.
Mid-December, John’s grandmother dies; she is buried on 19 December.
George continues to work in Abbey’s business; he is joined by Tom. After a brief stay at a girls’ school, Fanny goes to live with the Abbeys.
John continues to write poetry. As of December, he has nine months left in his apprenticeship.
Spring and summer, John continues to write poetry. He spends time with Clarke at Enfield and with George and Tom in London.
July 1815, the Apothecary Act is passed. Instead of Keats being able to set up his own practice upon the completion of his apprenticeship, he now must train at a hospital.
1 October, John registers at Guy’s Hospital. He plans to study there for a year and then apply for membership in the Royal College of Surgeons. His classes include a variety of subjects – anatomy, chemistry, dissection, physiology, botany, as well as various duties around the hospital. Contrary to later rumors, Keats does well enough to earn a ‘dressership’ at Guy’s for the new year. (Only 12 dressers were chosen from 700 students.)
He enjoys his life at Guy’s and socializes with fellow students. He goes to cockfights, bear-baitings and boxing matches; he plays billiards; etc
Around this time, John first meets Joseph Severn, the young painter who will later accompany him to Rome. They are introduced either by George Keats or a mutual friend from Enfield. He also meets William Haslam, who becomes one of his closest friends.
3 March, John begins work as a dresser. He is assigned to a surgeon whose operations were ‘very badly performed and accompanied by much bungling if not worse.’ Keats is required to dress wounds, change bandages and hold patients down during operations. He handles emergencies during his night duties and accompanies the surgeon on rounds. He sometimes performs his own operations.
5 May, John publishes his first poem, ‘O Solitude!’ in Leigh Hunt’s The Examiner. He had sent three poems in anonymously. The publication makes him consider a change in career. He decides to do the minimum work necessary for his medical career and continue writing. His friends fear he will fail his upcoming exams.
25 July in Blackfriars, John sits for the four exams necessary to become a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries. The exams cover the following s: a translation of the pharmacopoeia and physicians’ prescriptions; the theory and practice of medicine; pharmaceutical chemistry; and materia medica. Keats passes. He was 20 years old and had become an apothecary ‘in the shortest time possible and at the earliest possible age.’ Neither of his roommates pass the exams.
Summer, John goes on vacation to Margate with his brother, Tom, who is already in poor health. John proposes that he and Tom find a home to rent together in London. George is living with a business partner. On this vacation, John begins to write the lengthy letters to family and friends which helped to shape his ideas and beliefs. They are considered the most beautiful letters of any poet. Clarke moves to London and shows Leigh Hunt some of John’s poetry.
Late September, John returns to his new lodgings at 8 Dean Street but Tom moves in with George instead. He plans to apply for membership in the Royal College of Surgery the following year. He begins a new set of classes on surgery at Guy’s.
Mid-October, Clarke and John read a copy of George Chapman’s translation of Homer. John walks home the next morning, composing a sonnet along the way. He writes it down at Dean Street; it is called ‘On First looking into Chapman’s Homer’ and is considered his first great work. John has it sent immediately to Clarke’s home and it reaches his breakfast-table at 10 o’clock the same morning.
Autumn, John begins to meet the group of friends he will keep for the rest of his life. Among them are Leigh Hunt, James Rice, John Hamilton Reynolds, and the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon.
31 October, John turns 21 years old. He is now in full possession of his inheritance. There are two problems: first, his inheritance from his grandmother has been mostly spent on his medical training and second, his inheritance from his grandfather (valued at £800 plus cash interest) is in Chancery and his guardian Abbey does not know about it. John is, as always, reluctant and embarrassed about money matters; he never finds out the exact amount. He knows he cannot sustain a career in poetry unless it is commercially successful.
3 November, John visits Haydon’s studio and writes a sonnet praising Haydon, Hunt and the poet Wordsworth. Haydon send the sonnet to Wordsworth. John meets the influential critic William Hazlitt through Haydon.
Mid-November, John moves in with George and Tom at 76 Cheapside.
Late 1816 through 1817, Haydon and Hunt both consider John their protégé and there is some jealousy over his friendship with each. Hunt becomes friends with Percy Shelley and begins to patronize and neglect John a bit. John meets Shelley; they go for walks along Hampstead Heath and Shelley tries to persuade John not to publish his existing works.
November, John begins two longer poems, ‘I stood tip-toe upon a little hill’ and ‘Sleep and Poetry’.
1 December, Hunt publishes an essay in The Examiner titled ‘Three Young Poets’, about Shelley, Keats and Reynolds. They represent a ‘new school of poetry’. ‘On First looking into Chapman’s Homer’ appears in this issue. John decides to abandon his medical career.
14 December, Haydon makes a lifemask of John’s face (view at Keats: Images or to the right) and plans to include him in his next painting, ‘Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem’. Around the same time, Joseph Severn makes the earliest known sketch of Keats (view at Keats: Images.)
Late December, John meets with his guardian, Richard Abbey, to tell him he is leaving medicine. Abbey argues that John should set up an apothecary practice in Edmonton while continuing his surgical studies. Abbey recalled the meeting later: ‘Not intend to be a Surgeon! Why what do you mean to be? I mean to rely on my Abilities as a Poet – John, you are either mad or a Fool, to talk in so absurd a Manner. My mind is made up said the youngster very quietly. I know that I possess Abilities greater than most Men, and therefore I am determined to gain my Living by exercising them. – ‘
January and February, John continues to meet with his friends and work on his poetry; with Hunt’s help, he is seeking a publisher for his first volume of poetry. Two more of his sonnets are published in The Examiner.
27 February, John writes ‘This pleasant tale is like a little copse’. Read about its composition and view the original manuscript at Keats: Manuscripts.
1 or 2 March, Haydon takes John to view the Elgin Marbles. John writes the two Elgin Marbles sonnets.
3 March, John’s first volume, Poems, is published by C and J Ollier. His Elgin Marbles sonnets are published in The Examiner.
March, John and his brothers move to No. 1 Well Walk, next to Hampstead Heath. John meets the publisher John Taylor. They become friends and Taylor and his partner James Hessey plans to publish all of John’s future work.
14 March to late April, John travels alone to the Isle of Wight, lodging at Carisbrooke. He writes the sonnet ‘On the Sea’ and begins the great long poem, ‘Endymion’.
24 or 25 April, John moves to Margate where Tom joins him. He is loaned £20 by his new publisher and continues to work on ‘Endymion’.
May, John meets Benjamin Bailey and Charles Brown for the first time
June, John is back at Well Walk with his brothers and still working on ‘Endymion’. By the end of August, he has completed Books I and II.
3 September, John goes to stay with Benjamin Bailey at Oxford. They visit Stratford-upon-Avon. John writes Book III of ‘Endymion’.
5 October, John returns to Well Walk. He falls ill briefly and takes mercury.
28 November, John finishes ‘Endymion’.
12 December (date not certain), Haydon takes John to meet William Wordsworth. John sees the older poet several times afterwards.
15 and 18 December, John watches Edmund Kean perform in Drury Lane in two plays, Riches and Richard III.
21 December, John publishes his first theatrical review, of Kean’s performances, in The Champion.
28 December, John attends Haydon’s ‘Immortal Dinner’. Charles Lamb and Wordsworth are among the other guests.
January-February, revises and copies Endymion and attends Hazlitt’s lectures
March-April, John stays at Teignmouth, nursing his ill brother Tom
Writes Isabella, or the Pot of Basil
Endymion published by Taylor & Hessey
22-30 June, George Keats leaves for America
John tours the Lake District with Charles Brown
July – 8 August, walking tour of Scotland with Brown
August – December, nurses Tom at Hampstead and meets Fanny Brawne for the first time
Attacks on Poems and Endymion appear in ‘Blackwood’s’ and ‘Quarterly’
1 December, Tom dies
Keats moves to Wentworth Place
January, writes The Eve of St Agnes
Stays in Sussex and Hampshire
13-17 February, writes The Eve of St Mark
March-April, John experiences a bout of depression and gives up writing Hyperion
The Brawnes move into part of Wentworth Place
21 April-May, writes La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Writes his famous Odes
John becomes unofficially engaged to Fanny Brawne
July-August, John experiences the first signs of tuberculosis
At Shanklin, Isle of Wight, writing Lamia Part I and Otho the Great
August-October, moves to Winchester, writes Lamia Part II
Writes To Autumn
Begins and abandons The Fall of Hyperion
October-December, John returns to Hampstead
Becomes officially engaged to Fanny Brawne
John suffers another bout of depression; he is ill and unhappy
January, George Keats returns to England to raise money
John comes to a financial settlement with the executor of his grandmother’s estate; the settlement leaves him penniless (he gives most of his money to George)
3 February, John has his first lung haemorrhage and is confined to his house
May, Charles Brown rents out the house and John moves to Kentish Town, near Leigh Hunt
22 June, John has a severe second haemorrhage and moves to Leigh Hunt’s home
July, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St Agnes and other poems is published and well-reviewed
August, John leaves the Hunt home and is nursed by Fanny Brawne at Wentworth Place
17 September, John sails for Italy with Joseph Severn
November, John reaches Rome
30 November, John writes his last known letter
23 February, John dies at 26 Piazza di Spagna, Rome
26 February, John is buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "John Keats Chronology & Timeline of his life & work" https://englishhistory.net/keats/john-keats-chronology-timeline/, February 8, 2015