Some of the nation's greatest historical treasures are maintained in the libraries and archives of the City of London Corporation - the Treasure of the Month series is your chance to explore these rare artefacts in more detail and unlock London's history.
Many of the items rarely go on display, so take the opportunity to immerse yourself in our collective history.
Each month we'll be profiling a 'treasure' from one of the City's attractions including Guildhall Library, the Heritage Gallery, London Metropolitan Archives and the Guildhall Art Gallery.
To stay up-to-date with each month's Treasure, sign up to our Treasure of the Month email alert.
This month's treasure is...
Poems by John Keats, 1817
200 years ago this month saw the publication of John Keats's first volume of work, simply entitled Poems, by the Ollier Brothers.
This book documents the beginning of Keats's poetic ambitions, starting from his earliest known verse, Imitation of Spenser written in 1814. In several poems we see Keats's gratitude towards friends who helped him on this journey of artistic development. In To Charles Cowden Clarke, Keats's friend from his schooldays is praised as the one who ‘first taught me all the sweets of song’, because he helped ignite Keats's literary passion. To be published was a leap towards the dream of poetic greatness, for which he had abandoned his medical career. In Sleep and Poetry he wishes
‘O for ten years, that I may overwhelm
Myself in poesy’
Poems was the first of three books produced in his lifetime. Some reviews were positive – one admired its ‘sweetness and beauty of composition’ and Keats's friends praised his work. However, the Ollier Brothers were unhappy with its low sales, and henceforth Keats's volumes were published by the enthusiastic Taylor and Hessey. As with his later poetic endeavours, he never saw the success he desired and deserved. Looking at the volume now, however, we recognise some of his best-loved works – such as On First Looking into Chapman's Homer.
On display at Keats House .
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