© 2010

John Keats

A Literary Life

  • Authors

Part of the Literary Lives book series (LL)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. R. S. White
    Pages 1-14
  3. R. S. White
    Pages 15-40
  4. R. S. White
    Pages 41-56
  5. R. S. White
    Pages 57-72
  6. R. S. White
    Pages 175-186
  7. R. S. White
    Pages 187-206
  8. R. S. White
    Pages 207-218
  9. R. S. White
    Pages 219-232
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 233-260

About this book


At the heart of this 'Literary Life' are fresh interpretations of Keats's most loved poems, alongside other neglected but rich poems. The readings are placed in the context of his letters to family and friends, his medical training, radical politics of the time, his love for Fanny Brawne, his coterie of literary figures and his tragic early death.


John Keats poem poet

About the authors

R.S. WHITE has taught at the University of Newcastle on Tyne, UK, and is now Australian Professorial Fellow and Winthrop Professor of English and Cultural Studies at the University of Western Australia. He has published books on Shakespeare, Keats and Hazlitt. Natural Law in English Renaissance Literature (1996) was followed by Natural Rights in Romanticism of the 1790s (Palgrave, 2005) and Pacifism and English Literature: Minstrels of Peace (Palgrave, 2008).

Bibliographic information


"A great strength of this impressive biography is the way it accompanies Keats's life narrative with critical and interpretative passages on the poetry - there is much in these pages that will provoke thought for students and more experienced Keatsians. Keats's childhood, school years and medical career are exceptionally well done, and among many highlights the account of Keats's plays, letters, and Endymion are especially rewarding." Professor Nicholas Roe, University of St. Andrews, UK

"...makes significant contributions at the most advanced level of research and, at the other end of the scale, would be an excellent introduction for college undergraduates and general readers... a fine piece of research and writing..." Jack Stillinger, New Books Online

"...White's John Keats: A Literary Life allows us to see Keats as an active/creative agent, forging an identity between the competing demands of the actual and the imagined. This places Keats firmly within his own time, but it also brings his life into fascinating dialogue with the present. The book, a most welcome addition to the literature on John Keats, is certain to draw a wide and appreciative audience." Peter Otto, Australian Book Review

"R.S. White has written a focused, concise and perceptive biography of John Keats for Palgrave Macmillan's Literary Lives, which will stand readers of the poetry in good stead for years to come As a Renaissance scholar, White brings a thorough understanding of other literary periods to bear on the Romantics, and as a result offers some original commentary demonstrating the influence on Keats of Edmund Spenser, John Donne and, above all, William Shakespeare. He is also sensitive to the sense in which Keats regarded his second profession, poetry, as a continuation of his first - that of medicine. Both were concerned with the healing of mind and body, and that goes some way towards explaining Keats' change of career". Duncan Wu, Times Higher Education

"Elegantly written and expertly crafted, R. S. White's John Keats: A Literary Life aims to redress just this kind of imbalance between biography and critical commentary, not only managing to synthesise the most innovative current criticism on Keats's life and work in less than 300 pages, but also establishing a fresh set of contexts with which to read them Indeed, it is the insightful commentary that White repeatedly brings to apparently well-established events, ideas, and contexts that makes this book so valuable Academic readers will be glad that White has chosen to incorporate so much new material into his concise Life, but this is nonetheless one of those rare books that will appeal to both the general and the specialist reader: students requiring either a short biography of Keats or a critical overview of his major works will still find this book an invaluable starting point for further study. Considering the amount of material already published on Keats, it is a major achievement that White's Life is both accessible to students and an essential addition to our knowledge of Keats's life and work." Porscha Fermanis, British Association for Romantic Studies

"Students and scholars alike will find that White's discussion of contextual material about the Hunt circle and Keats's medical training, along with the author's extensive knowledge of Shakespeare's works, will enrich their understanding of specific passages in both letters and poems." Grant F. Scott, The Keats-Shelley Review

"This is a helpful, insightful, elegantly written account of the poet and his poetry ... A very fine addition to Palgrave Macmillan's Literary Lives series. White pays serious attention to the complexities of Keats's verse, but he writes clearly and with a lively delight worthy of his subject. The book would provide an ideal introduction to the poet for any undergraduate student, but it also offers significant and original interpretations of his work." The Year's Review in English Studies