A Poet and His Manuscripts
Distributed for British Library
In his brief lifetime, John Keats (1795–1821) published just three volumes of poetry: a collection of early verse in 1817; Endymion, a long and fairly unsuccessful poem in 1819; and a final collection in 1820, which included most of the poems for which he is now famous. For many years these anthologies contained all that the public knew of Keats, but over time it has become readily apparent that an extraordinary wealth of manuscripts lay behind these few volumes.
John Keats: A Poet and His Manuscripts presents, in chronological order, the surviving manuscripts of his finest poems and letters—often illustrated at actual size and in their entirety—providing a record of the poet’s visual processes of composition and offering a vivid portrait of his rich imagination and swift progress as a writer and thinker. Stephen Hebron, in his masterly introduction, offers the intriguing story of how Keats’s manuscripts were jealously guarded after his death, before they were finally bequeathed to public and private collections, revealing as much about the fame of the poet as the social and literary fashions of the past two-hundred years.