Literary Locales: Keats House
This is a part of our “Literary Locales” series here at LT. Check out the first post in the series for more information.
What: Keats House
Where: Keats Grove, Hampstead, London NW3 2RR
Literary Connection: Keats lived here (and met Fanny Brawne here)
Recommended Reading: “Bright Star,” undoubtedly, although he also wrote “La Belle Dame sans Merci,” “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and “Ode to a Nightingale” while living in this house
Transgression: Regency love thwarted by consumption!
I’m going to admit up front that I know very little about John Keats. I’m not a die-hard Keats fan nor do I hate the man; I’m just largely unaware. I enjoy the romanticism of his relationship with Fanny Brawne and I’m a Regency-lovin’ girl, but specificity about him is not part of my literary repertoire. (And you all know how I feel about poetry in general.) All the same, this past Sunday I discovered his house in Hampstead and took a turn about the place. And it was lovely.
The house itself is a beautiful example of Regency architecture and style, although very sparsely decorated these days. There is one large case of Keats portraiture and busts, another case with Fanny Brawne paraphernalia, a few pieces of reproduction furniture scattered throughout the house, and that is about it. All the same, it is beautiful and very nice to walk around. Additionally, there are some great guides in each room explaining whatever is in it and what the room was used for in Keats time.
As a Keats novice, I got to learn about him (and Fanny, since she lived in one half of the house with her family and he in the other) and see a remarkably well preserved Regency home. I would imagine that the experience would have been much deeper and more meaningful for someone who loves Keats, but I really enjoyed the visit even as someone who doesn’t. The architecture was enough for me! I’ve read so much Austen, but never really experienced an original home of the period. Being physically in a contemporary space really added a new layer to my reading.
Also, as a bonus, one admission ticket to the house is good for a whole year and they often have fun programs and lectures to take advantage of. Next weekend, they’re having a day of Regency games which I will most definitely be attending!