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Synopsis

'I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections, and the truth of imagination' - Keats, in a letter to his friend Benjamin Bailey in November 1817.

In a period of great letter-writing, Keats's letters are outstanding. They begin in summer 1816, as he approached his twenty-first birthday, and were written over the next four years until his early death. Viewed together, they give the fullest and most poignant record we have of Keats's ambitions and hopes as a poet, his life as a literary man about town, his close relationship with his brothers and young sister, and, later, his passionate, jealous and frustrated love for Fanny Brawne.

Keats enclosed many of his poems with his letters, and read together, they offer an incomparable insight into his creative process and development as a poet. This major new edition edited by Professor John Barnard includes an introduction and notes, as well as a map of Keats's Scottish walking tour and reproductions of his letters.

John Keats was born in October 1795. His Poems appeared in 1817, while Endymion was published in 1818, both to mixed reviews. In 1819 he wrote The Eve of St Agnes, La Belle Dame sans Merci, the major odes, Lamia and the Fall of Hyperion. Keats was already unwell when preparing his 1820 volume for the press; by the time it appeared in July he was desperately ill. He died in Rome in 1821, in a rented apartment next to the Spanish Steps, at the age of twenty-five.

John Barnard is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Leeds and has edited The Complete Poems of Keats for Penguin Classics.

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