Since his death in 1821, John Keats has become one of the most famous and admired English poets. Not surprisingly, his influence upon other writers has also been profound. At this page, you can learn about 19th and 20th century works which were inspired by Keats’s life and poetry. For copyright reasons, none of the 20th century works can be reproduced.
Percy Shelley, Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats first printed in July 1821
Oscar Wilde, On the sale by auction of Keats’s love letters
Tom Clark, Junkets on a Sad Planet: Scenes from the life of John Keats (prose/poem biography of Keats)
Tony Harrison, A Kumquat for John Keats
Amy Clampitt, Voyages: A Homage to John Keats (prose)
Andrew Motion, Salt Water (includes ‘Sailing to Italy’, about Keats)
The Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen also wrote two poems about Keats. Click here to read ‘To John Keats, Poet, at Springtime’. It’s lovely.
And for many readers, the great American 20th century poet Wallace Stevens is the true descendant of John Keats. Click here to learn about his life and poetry, and decide for yourself if he was inspired by Keats.
John Keats (of a sort) is also a main character in Dan Simmons’ Hyperion saga. Over the years, several readers have written to me about these science-fiction books. I grew up reading my father’s sci-fi paperbacks from the ’50s and ’60s (what is now termed the ‘golden age’ of sci-fi) so this, combined with my encyclopedic knowledge of Doctor Who, makes me a proud sci-fi geek. I still don’t understand why Philip Dick isn’t considered one of the greatest American novelists of the 20th century. Or why books like Pavane, A Canticle for Leibowitz, etc are stocked in the ‘science fiction’ section of bookstores rather than in the all-encompassing ‘literature’ section. This marketplace division is lunacy and extends to great mystery and historical fiction writers as well.
So when people wrote in to recommend the Hyperion books, I was intrigued and gave them a try. It all worked out in the end. Hyperion is pretty good. It has an interesting premise and quirky characters. I liked the ‘John Keats’ angle, but that may just be my Keats enthusiasm speaking. And if the books encourage readers to check out John Keats the poet, well, I’m all for it.
A few pop culture references….
Morrissey sings about Keats (and Wilde) in ‘Cemetry Gates’, one of the songs on The Smiths’ 1986 pop masterpiece The Queen Is Dead.
And the sitcom Married… with Children mentioned a poet’s name only twice and both times it was John Keats. Al recited a poem and Peg asked, ‘John Keats?’ And there was a spoof of a sitcom about ‘a man in the 18th century who wrote poetry and lived with his family…. The Family Keats!’ (Yes, they had the century wrong.)
One of the writers must have had a Keatsian bent.
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "Works Inspired By John Keats" https://englishhistory.net/keats/works-inspired-john-keats/, February 27, 2015