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John Keats

(1795-1821)

John Keats was born on October 31, 1775 in London. His parents were Frances Jennings and Thomas Keats. John Keats was educated at Enfield School, which was known for its liberal education. While at Enfield, Keats was encouraged by Charles Cowden Clarke in his reading and writing. After the death of his parents when he was fourteen, Keats became apprenticed to a surgeon. In 1815 he became a student at Guy's Hospital. However, after qualifying to become an apothecary-surgeon, Keats gave up the practice of Medicine to become a poet. Keats had begun writing as early as 1814 and his first volume of poetry was published in 1817.

In 1818 Keats took a long walking tour in the British Isles that led to a prolonged sore throat, which was to become a first symptom of the disease that killed his mother and brother, tuberculosis. After he concluded his walking tour, Keats settled in Hampstead. Here he and Fanny Brawne met and fell in love. However, they were never able to marry because of his health and financial situation. Between the Fall of 1818 and 1820 Keats produces some of his best known works, such as La Belle Dame sans Merci and Lamia. After 1820 Keats' illness became so severe that he had to leave England for the warmer climate of Italy. In 1821 he died of tuberculosis in Rome. He is buried there in the Protestant cemetery.