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Exhibitions

An exhibition panel titled "Keats at Wentworth Place" and, below, a quote from John Keats on living at Wentworth.

Keats and the Brawnes at Wentworth Place

Keats moved in to Wentworth Place in December 1818. When Keats first arrived to live with his friend Charles Brown, he rented two small rooms in Brown's home, which was on the east side of the house. The larger home on the west side was owned by the Dilke family who Keats was already friendly with.

In a letter to his brother George that month he wrote: 'With Dilke and Brown I am quite thick – with Brown indeed I am going to domesticate – that is we shall keep house together.'

Hampstead at that time was a small village situated eight miles outside of London on the edge of the Heath. Keats wanted to live here because of its rural location and the creative circle which had developed around Leigh Hunt's cottage in the Vale of Health.

On 3 April 1819, the Dilke family moved out of Wentworth Place to live in Westminster. They rented their side of the House to Mrs Brawne and her three children, including the eldest daughter Fanny Brawne.

Little is known about Fanny Brawne in this period other than what Keats and his friends said about her. In a letter to his brother George, Keats describes her as 'beautiful and elegant, graceful, silly, fashionable and strange' and we know that she was a lively young woman interested in fashion, history and theatre.

The spring and summer of 1819 was a remarkably productive period in Keats's life. Inspired by his literary studies, his surroundings, friendships and love for Fanny Brawne, he wrote many of the works for which he is now famous, including the great Odes.

Keats lived at Wentworth Place on and off until September 1820. He then left for the final time to travel to Rome, where he died on 23 February 1821. After Keats's death, Fanny and his friends continued to champion his work and keep his legacy alive. Fanny also retained her connection with Wentworth Place until December 1831.

'Keats and the Brawnes at Wentworth Place' seeks to evoke this special period in Keats's life and place visitors in the setting of Hampsted at that time.

The exhibition is in the Gallery on the first floor, accessible only by stairs.

The Keats200 bicentenary is a celebration of Keats’s life, works and legacy, beginning in December 2018 through to February 2021 and beyond. It is led by three major partners - Keats House, Hampstead, The Keats Foundation and the Keats-Shelley House, Rome - and is open to all individuals and organisations who have an interest in Keats or poetry. The bicentenary of Keats’s most productive years as a poet, and the period when he found inspiration, friendship and love, is an exciting opportunity to (re)discover and enjoy his works as well as engage with poetry and its ongoing relevance to us all today. 

Published:
07 December 2017
Last Modified:
19 August 2019

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