English Literature – انگریزی ادب
David Herbert Lawrence
He was born in Eastwood Nottinghamshire on September 11th 1885
The fourth child of Arthur John Lawrence, a barely literate miner, and Lydia (née Beardsall), a former schoolmistress, Lawrence spent his formative years in the coal mining town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire. The house in which he was born, in Eastwood, 8a Victoria Street, is now the D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum. His working class background and the tensions between his parents provided the raw material for a number of his early works. Lawrence would return to this locality, which he was to call “the country of my heart,” as a setting for much of his fiction.
The young Lawrence attended Beauvale Board School (now renamed Greasley Beauvale D. H. Lawrence Primary School in his honour) from 1891 until 1898, becoming the first local pupil to win a County Council scholarship to Nottingham High School in nearby Nottingham. There is a house in the junior school named after him. He left in 1901, working for three months as a junior clerk at Haywood’s surgical appliances factory, but a severe bout of pneumonia, the result from being accosted by a group of factory girls, ended this career. Whilst convalescing he often visited Hagg’s Farm, the home of the Chambers family and began a friendship with Jessie Chambers. An important aspect of this relationship with Jessie and other adolescent acquaintances was a shared love of books, an interest that lasted throughout Lawrence’s life. In the years 1902 to 1906 Lawrence served as a pupil teacher at the British School, Eastwood. He went on to become a full-time student and received a teaching certificate from University College Nottingham in 1908. During these early years he was working on his first poems, some short stories, and a draft of a novel, Laetitia, that was eventually to become The White Peacock. At the end of 1907 he won a short story competition in the Nottingham Guardian, the first time that he had gained any wider recognition for his literary talents.
In the autumn of 1908 the newly qualified Lawrence left his childhood home for London. While teaching in Davidson Road School, Croydon, he continued writing. Some of the early poetry, submitted by Jessie Chambers, came to the attention of Ford Madox Ford, then known as Ford Hermann Hueffer and editor of the influential The English Review. Hueffer then commissioned the story Odour of Chrysanthemums which, when published in that magazine, encouraged Heinemann, a London publisher, to ask Lawrence for more work. His career as a professional author now began in earnest, although he taught for a further year. Shortly after the final proofs of his first published novel The White Peacock appeared in 1910, Lawrence’s mother died. She had been ill with cancer. The young man was devastated and he was to describe the next few months as his “sick year.” It is clear that Lawrence had an extremely close relationship with his mother and his grief following her death became a major turning point in his life, just as the death of Mrs. Morel forms a major turning point in his autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers, a work that draws upon much of the writer’s provincial upbringing.
In 1911 Lawrence was introduced to Edward Garnett, a publisher’s reader, who acted as a mentor, provided further encouragement, and became a valued friend, as Garnett’s son David was also. Throughout these months the young author revised Paul Morel, the first draft of what became Sons and Lovers. In addition, a teaching colleague, Helen Corke, gave him access to her intimate diaries about an unhappy love affair, which formed the basis of The Trespasser, his second novel. In November 1911, pneumonia struck once again. After recovering his health Lawrence decided to abandon teaching in order to become a full time author. He also broke off an engagement to Louie Burrows, an old friend from his days in Nottingham and Eastwood.
In March 1912 Lawrence met Frieda Weekley (nee von Richthofen), with whom he was to share the rest of his life. She was six years older than her new lover, married to Lawrence’s former modern languages professor from Nottingham University, Ernest Weekley, and with three young children. She eloped with Lawrence to her parents’ home in Metz, a garrison town then in Germany near the disputed border with France. Their stay here included Lawrence’s first brush with militarism, when he was arrested and accused of being a British spy, before being released following an intervention from Frieda Weekley’s father. After this encounter Lawrence left for a small hamlet to the south of Munich, where he was joined by Weekley for their “honeymoon”, later memorialised in the series of love poems entitled Look! We Have Come Through (1917).
From Germany they walked southwards across the Alps to Italy, a journey that was recorded in the first of his travel books, a collection of linked essays entitled Twilight in Italy and the unfinished novel, Mr Noon. During his stay in Italy, Lawrence completed the final version of Sons and Lovers that, when published in 1913, was acknowledged to represent a vivid portrait of the realities of working class provincial life. Lawrence though, had become so tired of the work that he allowed Edward Garnett to cut about a hundred pages from the text.
Lawrence and Frieda returned to England in 1913 for a short visit. At this time, he now encountered and befriended critic John Middleton Murry and New Zealand-born short story writer Katherine Mansfield. Lawrence and Weekley soon went back to Italy, staying in a cottage in Fiascherino on the Gulf of Spezia. Here he started writing the first draft of a work of fiction that was to be transformed into two of his better-known novels, The Rainbow and Women in Love. Eventually, Weekley obtained her divorce. The couple returned to England at the outbreak of World War I and were married on 13 July, 1914. In this time, Lawrence worked with London intellectuals and writers such as Dora Marsden and the people involved with The Egoist (T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and others). The Egoist, an important Modernist literary magazine, published some of his work. He was also reading and adapting Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto.
Weekley’s German parentage and Lawrence’s open contempt for militarism meant that they were viewed with suspicion in wartime England and lived in near destitution. The Rainbow (1915) was suppressed after an investigation into its alleged obscenity in 1915. Later, they were even accused of spying and signaling to German submarines off of the coast of Cornwall where they lived at Zennor. During this period he finished Women in Love. In it Lawrence explores the destructive features of contemporary civilization through the evolving relationships of four major characters as they reflect upon the value of the arts, politics, economics, sexual experience, friendship and marriage. This book is a bleak, bitter vision of humanity and proved impossible to publish in wartime conditions. Not published until 1920, it is now widely recognised as an English novel of great dramatic force and intellectual subtlety.
In late 1917, after constant harassment by the armed forces authorities, Lawrence was forced to leave Cornwall at three days’ notice under the terms of the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA). This persecution was later described in an autobiographical chapter of his Australian novel Kangaroo, published in 1923. He spent some months in early 1918 in the small, rural village of Hermitage near Newbury, Berkshire. He then lived for just under a year (mid-1918 to early 1919) at Mountain Cottage, Middleton-by-Wirksworth, Derbyshire, where he wrote one of his most poetic short stories, The Wintry Peacock. Until 1919 he was compelled by poverty to shift from address to address and barely survived a severe attack of influenza.
The savage pilgrimage begins
After the traumatic experience of the war years, Lawrence began what he termed his ‘savage pilgrimage’, a time of voluntary exile. He escaped from England at the earliest practical opportunity, to return only twice for brief visits, and with his wife spent the remainder of his life travelling. This wanderlust took him to Australia, Italy, Ceylon (now called Sri Lanka), the United States, Mexico and the South of France.
Lawrence abandoned England in November 1919 and headed south; first to the Abruzzi region in central Italy and then onwards to Capri and the Fontana Vecchia in Taormina, Sicily. From Sicily he made brief excursions to Sardinia, Monte Cassino, Malta, Northern Italy, Austria and Southern Germany. Many of these places appeared in his writings. New novels included The Lost Girl (for which he won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction), Aaron’s Rod and the fragment entitled Mr Noon (the first part of which was published in the Phoenix anthology of his works, and the entirety in 1984). He experimented with shorter novels or novellas, such as The Captain’s Doll, The Fox and The Ladybird. In addition, some of his short stories were issued in the collection England, My England and Other Stories. During these years he produced a number of poems about the natural world in Birds, Beasts and Flowers. Lawrence is widely recognized as one of the finest travel writers in the English language. Sea and Sardinia, a book that describes a brief journey from Taormina undertaken in January 1921, is a recreation of the life of the inhabitants of this part of the Mediterranean. Less well known is the brilliant memoir of Maurice Magnus (Memoirs of the Foreign Legion), in which Lawrence recalls his visit to the monastery of Monte Cassino. Other non-fiction books include two studies of Freudian psychoanalysis and Movements in European History, a school textbook that was published under a pseudonym, a reflection of his blighted reputation in England.
Later life and career
In late February 1922 the Lawrences left Europe behind with the intention of migrating to the United States. They sailed in an easterly direction, first to Ceylon and then on to Australia. A short residence in Darlington, Western Australia, which included an encounter with local writer Mollie Skinner, was followed by a brief stop in the small coastal town of Thirroul, New South Wales, during which Lawrence completed Kangaroo, a novel about local fringe politics that also revealed a lot about his wartime experiences in Cornwall.
The Lawrences finally arrived in the U.S. in September 1922. Here they encountered Mabel Dodge Luhan, a prominent socialite, and considered establishing a utopian community on what was then known as the 160-acre (0.65 km2) Kiowa Ranch near Taos, New Mexico. They acquired the property, now called the D. H. Lawrence Ranch, in 1924 in exchange for the manuscript of Sons and Lovers. He stayed in New Mexico for two years, with extended visits to Lake Chapala and Oaxaca in Mexico. While Lawrence was in New Mexico, he was visited by Aldous Huxley. After Lawrence’s death, Frieda married Angelo Ravagli. Lawrence’s ashes are at a shrine at the ranch, where Frieda and her husband spend their latter years.
While in the U.S., Lawrence rewrote and published Studies in Classic American Literature, a set of critical essays begun in 1917, and later described by Edmund Wilson as “one of the few first-rate books that have ever been written on the subject.” These interpretations, with their insights into symbolism, New England Transcendentalism and the puritan sensibility, were a significant factor in the revival of the reputation of Herman Melville during the early 1920s. In addition, Lawrence completed a number of new fictional works, including The Boy in the Bush, The Plumed Serpent, St Mawr, The Woman who Rode Away, The Princess and assorted short stories. He also found time to produce some more travel writing, such as the collection of linked excursions that became Mornings in Mexico.
A brief voyage to England at the end of 1923 was a failure and he soon returned to Taos, convinced that his life as an author now lay in America. However, in March 1925 he suffered a near fatal attack of malaria and tuberculosis while on a third visit to Mexico. Although he eventually recovered, the diagnosis of his condition obliged him to return once again to Europe. He was dangerously ill and poor health limited his ability to travel for the remainder of his life.
The Lawrences made their home in a villa in Northern Italy, living near to Florence while he wrote The Virgin and the Gipsy and the various versions of Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928). The latter book, his last major novel, was initially published in private editions in Florence and Paris and reinforced his notoriety. Lawrence responded robustly to those who claimed to be offended, penning a large number of satirical poems, published under the title of “Pansies” and “Nettles”, as well as a tract on Pornography and Obscenity.
The return to Italy allowed Lawrence to renew old friendships; during these years he was particularly close to Aldous Huxley, who was to edit the first collection of Lawrence’s letters after his death, along with a memoir. With artist Earl Brewster, Lawrence visited a number of local archaeological sites in April 1927. The resulting essays describing these visits to old tombs were written up and collected together as Sketches of Etruscan Places, a beautiful book that contrasts the lively past with Benito Mussolini’s fascism.
Lawrence continued to produce fiction, including short stories and The Escaped Cock (also published as The Man Who Died), an unorthodox reworking of the story of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection. During these final years Lawrence renewed a serious interest in oil painting. Official harassment persisted and an exhibition of some of these pictures at the Warren Gallery in London was raided by the police in mid 1929 and a number of works were confiscated. Nine of the Lawrence oils have been on permanent display in the La Fonda Hotel in Taos since shortly after his death. They hang in a small office behind the hotel’s front desk and are available for viewing.
Lawrence continued to write despite his failing health. In his last months he wrote numerous poems, reviews and essays, as well as a robust defence of his last novel against those who sought to suppress it. His last significant work was a reflection on the Book of Revelation, Apocalypse. After being discharged from a sanatorium, he died at the Villa Robermond in Vence, France due to complications from tuberculosis. Frieda Weekly commissioned an elaborate headstone for his grave bearing a mosaic of his adopted emblem of the phoenix. she returned to live on the ranch in Taos and later her third husband brought Lawrence’s ashes to rest there in a small chapel set amid the mountains of New Mexico. The headstone has recently been donated to D.H. Lawrence Heritage and is now on display in the D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum in his home town of Eastwood, Nottinghamshire.
While writing Women in Love in Cornwall during 1916-17, Lawrence developed a strong and possibly romantic relationship with a Cornish farmer named William Henry Hocking. Although it is not absolutely clear if their relationship was sexual, Frieda Weekley said she believed it was. Lawrence’s fascination with themes of homosexuality could also be related to his own sexual orientation. This theme is also overtly manifested in Women in Love. Indeed, in a letter written during 1913, he writes, “I should like to know why nearly every man that approaches greatness tends to homosexuality, whether he admits it or not…” He is also quoted as saying, “I believe the nearest I’ve come to perfect love was with a young coal-miner when I was about 16.”
The obituaries shortly after Lawrence’s death were, with the notable exception of E. M. Forster, unsympathetic or hostile. However, there were those who articulated a more favourable recognition of the significance of this author’s life and works. For example, his longtime friend Catherine Carswell summed up his life in a letter to the periodical Time and Tide published on 16 March 1930. In response to his critics, she claimed:
In the face of formidable initial disadvantages and life-long delicacy, poverty that lasted for three quarters of his life and hostility that survives his death, he did nothing that he did not really want to do, and all that he most wanted to do he did. He went all over the world, he owned a ranch, he lived in the most beautiful corners of Europe, and met whom he wanted to meet and told them that they were wrong and he was right. He painted and made things, and sang, and rode. He wrote something like three dozen books, of which even the worst page dances with life that could be mistaken for no other man’s, while the best are admitted, even by those who hate him, to be unsurpassed. Without vices, with most human virtues, the husband of one wife, scrupulously honest, this estimable citizen yet managed to keep free from the shackles of civilization and the cant of literary cliques. He would have laughed lightly and cursed venomously in passing at the solemn owls—each one secretly chained by the leg—who now conduct his inquest. To do his work and lead his life in spite of them took some doing, but he did it, and long after they are forgotten, sensitive and innocent people—if any are left—will turn Lawrence’s pages and will know from them what sort of a rare man Lawrence was.
Aldous Huxley also defended Lawrence in his introduction to a collection of letters published in 1932. However, the most influential advocate of Lawrence’s contribution to literature was the Cambridge literary critic F. R. Leavis who asserted that the author had made an important contribution to the tradition of English fiction. Leavis stressed that The Rainbow, Women in Love, and the short stories and tales were major works of art. Later, the Lady Chatterley Trial of 1960, and subsequent publication of the book, ensured Lawrence’s popularity (and notoriety) with a wider public.
A number of feminist critics, notably Kate Millett, have questioned Lawrence’s sexual politics, and this questioning has damaged his reputation in some quarters since then. Norman Mailer came to Lawrence’s defense in The Prisoner of Sex in 1971. On the other hand, Lawrence continues to find an audience, and the ongoing publication of a new scholarly edition of his letters and writings has demonstrated the range of his achievement.
The charge of male chauvinism has tended to be lacking in balance. He held (seemingly contradictory) views espousing feminism. The evidence of his written works does indicate an overwhelming commitment to representing women as strong, independent and complex. He produced major works in which young, self-directing female characters were central. Harrison drew attention to the vein of sadism that runs through Lawrence’s writing.
Lawrence is perhaps best known for his novels Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women in Love and Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Within these Lawrence explores the possibilities for life and living within an Industrial setting. In particular Lawrence is concerned with the nature of relationships that can be had within such settings. Though often classed as a realist, Lawrence’s use of his characters can be better understood with reference to his philosophy. His use of sexual activity, though shocking at the time, has its roots in this highly personal way of thinking and being. It is worth noting that Lawrence was very interested in human touch behaviour (see Haptics) and that his interest in physical intimacy has its roots in a desire to restore our emphasis on the body, and re-balance it with what he perceived to be western civilization’s slow process of over-emphasis on the mind. In his later years Lawrence developed the potentialities of the short novel form in St Mawr, The Virgin and the Gypsy and The Escaped Cock.
Lawrence wrote many short stories. The best-known include The Captain’s Doll, The Fox, The Ladybird, Odour of Chrysanthemums, The Princess, The Rocking-Horse Winner, St Mawr, The Virgin and the Gypsy and The Woman who Rode Away. (The Virgin and the Gypsy was published after he died as a novella.)
Among his most praised collections, The Prussian Officer and Other Stories, published in 1916, provides insight into Lawrence’s attitudes during World War I. His collection The Woman Who Rode Away and Other Stories, published in 1928, develops his themes of leadership that he also explored in novels such as Kangaroo, The Plumed Serpent and Fanny and Annie.
Although best known for his novels, Lawrence wrote almost 800 poems, most of them relatively short. His first poems were written in 1904 and two of his poems, Dreams Old and Dreams Nascent, were among his earliest published works in The English Review. His early works clearly place him in the school of Georgian poets, a group not only named after the present monarch but also to the romantic poets of the previous Georgian period whose work they were trying to emulate. What typified the entire movement, and Lawrence’s poems of the time, were well-worn poetic tropes and deliberately archaic language. Many of these poems displayed what John Ruskin referred to as the “pathetic fallacy,” which is the tendency to ascribe human emotions to animals and even inanimate objects.
It was the flank of my wife
I touched with my hand, I clutched with my hand,
rising, new-awakened from the tomb!
It was the flank of my wife
whom I married years ago
at whose side I have lain for over a thousand nights
and all that previous while, she was I, she was I;
I touched her, it was I who touched and I who was touched.
— excerpt, New Heaven and Earth
Just as World War I dramatically changed the work of many of the poets who saw service in the trenches, Lawrence’s own work saw a dramatic change, during his years in Cornwall. During this time, he wrote free verse influenced by Walt Whitman. He set forth his manifesto for much of his later verse in the introduction to New Poems. “We can get rid of the stereotyped movements and the old hackneyed associations of sound or sense. We can break down those artificial conduits and canals through which we do so love to force our utterance. We can break the stiff neck of habit…But we cannot positively prescribe any motion, any rhythm.”
Lawrence rewrote many of his novels several times to perfect them and similarly he returned to some of his early poems when they were collected in 1928. This was in part to fictionalise them, but also to remove some of the artifice of his first works. As he put in himself: “A young man is afraid of his demon and puts his hand over the demon’s mouth sometimes and speaks for him.” His best known poems are probably those dealing with nature such as those in Birds Beasts and Flowers and Tortoises. Snake, one of his most frequently anthologised, displays some of his most frequent concerns; those of man’s modern distance from nature and subtle hints at religious themes.
In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob tree
I came down the steps with my pitcher
And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before me.
— excerpt, Snake
Look! We have come through! is his other work from the period of the end of the war and it reveals another important element common to much of his writings; his inclination to lay himself bare in his writings. Although Lawrence could be regarded as a writer of love poems, his usually deal in the less romantic aspects of love such as sexual frustration or the sex act itself. Ezra Pound in his Literary Essays complained of Lawrence’s interest in his own “disagreeable sensations” but praised him for his “low-life narrative.” This is a reference to Lawrence’s dialect poems akin to the Scots poems of Robert Burns, in which he reproduced the language and concerns of the people of Nottinghamshire from his youth.
Tha thought tha wanted ter be rid o’ me.
‘Appen tha did, an’ a’.
Tha thought tha wanted ter marry an’ se
If ter couldna be master an’ th’ woman’s boss,
Tha’d need a woman different from me,
An’ tha knowed it; ay, yet tha comes across
Ter say goodbye! an’ a’.
— excerpt, The Drained Cup
Pound was the chief proponent of modernist poetry and although Lawrence’s works after his Georgian period are clearly in the Modernist tradition, they were often very different to many other modernist writers. Modernist works were often austere works in which every word was carefully worked on and hard-fought for. Lawrence felt all poems had to be personal sentiments and that spontaneity was vital for any work. He called one collection of poems Pansies partly for the simple ephemeral nature of the verse but also a pun on the French word panser, to dress or bandage a wound. His wounds still needed soothing for the reception he regularly received in England with The Noble Englishman and Don’t Look at Me being removed from the official edition of Pansies on the grounds of obscenity. Even though he lived most of the last ten years of his life abroad, his thoughts were often still on England. His last work Nettles published in 1930 just eleven days after his death were a series of bitter, “nettling” but often amusing attacks on the moral climate of England.
O the stale old dogs who pretend to guard
the morals of the masses,
how smelly they make the great back-yard
wetting after everyone that passes.
— excerpt, The Young and Their Moral Guardians
Two notebooks of Lawrence’s unprinted verse were posthumously published as Last Poems and More Pansies. These contain two of Lawrence’s most famous poems about death, Bavarian Gentians and The Ship of Death.
Lawrence’s criticism of other authors often provides great insight into his own thinking and writing. Of particular note is his Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays and Studies in Classic American Literature. In the latter, Lawrence’s responses to Whitman, Melville and Edgar Allan Poe shed particular light on the nature of Lawrence’s craft.
Lawrence continued throughout his life to develop his highly personal philosophy, many aspects of which would prefigure the counterculture of the 1960s. In fact, he was referenced in one of the most iconic films about 1960s counterculture Easy Rider. His unpublished introduction to Sons and Lovers established the duality central to much of his fiction. This is done with reference to the Holy Trinity. As his philosophy develops, Lawrence moves away from more direct Christian analogies and instead touches upon Mysticism, Buddhism, and Pagan theologies. In some respects, Lawrence was a forerunner of the growing interest in the occult that occurred in the 20th century, though he would have identified himself as a Christian.
D. H. Lawrence had a lifelong interest in painting, which became one of his main forms of expression in his last years. These were exhibited at the Warren Gallery in London’s Mayfair in 1929. The exhibition was extremely controversial, with many of the 13,000 people visiting mainly to gawk. The Daily Express claimed “Fight with an Amazon represents a hideous, bearded man holding a fair-haired woman in his lascivious grip while wolves with dripping jaws look on expectantly, [this] is frankly indecent”, but several artists and art experts praised the paintings. Gwen John, reviewing the exhibition in Everyman, spoke of Lawrence’s “stupendous gift of self-expression” and singled out The Finding of Moses, Red Willow Trees and Boccaccio Story as “pictures of real beauty and great vitality”. Others singled out Contadini for special praise. After a complaint from a member of the public, the police seized thirteen of the twenty-five paintings on view (including Boccaccio Story and Contadini). Despite declarations of support from many writers, artists and members of parliament, Lawrence was able to recover his paintings only by undertaking never to exhibit them in England again. The largest collection of the paintings is now at La Fonda hotel in Taos, New Mexico. Several, including Boccaccio Story and Resurrection are at the Humanities Research Centre of the University of Texas at Austin.
“Be a good animal, true to your instincts.” — The White Peacock
“Mrs Morel always said the after-life would hold nothing in store for her husband: he rose from the lower world into purgatory, when he came home from pit, and passed into heaven in the Palmerston Arms.” — Sons and Lovers (edited out of the 1913 edition, restored in 1992)
“I think I am much too valuable a creature to offer myself to a German bullet gratis and for fun.” — Letter to Harriet Monroe, 1 October 1914
“Don’t you find it a beautiful clean thought, a world empty of people, just uninterrupted grass, and a hare sitting up.” — Women in Love
“Never trust the artist. Trust the tale.” — Studies in Classic American Literature (also rendered as “Never trust the teller; trust the tale.”)
“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.” — opening sentence of Lady Chatterley’s Lover
“Her father was not a coherent human being, he was a roomful of old echoes.” — Women in Love
“They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains the hottest blood of all.” — “Whales Weep Not”
“If I were the moon, I know where I would fall down” — The Rainbow
“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.” — “Self-Pity”
“If I had my way I would build a lethal chamber as big as the Crystal Palace, with a military band playing softly, and a cinematograph working brightly; then I had go out in the back streets and the main streets and bring them in; all the sick, the halt, and the maimed”.
31 October 1795 London, United Kingdom
Died: 23 February 1821 (aged 25) Rome, Italy
Occupation: Poet, surgeon’s apprentice, medical student
Language: English-Alma mater Guy’s Hospital
Literary movement: Romanticism
Spouse(s) Frances “Fanny” Brawne (betrothed, never married)
John Keats was born on 31 October 1795 to Thomas and Frances Jennings Keats. He was the oldest of their four surviving children – George (1797-1841), Thomas (1799-1818), and Frances Mary “Fanny” (1803-1889). A son was lost in infancy. John was born in central London, (though there is no clear evidence exactly where) His father was working as an ostler at the Hoop and Swan pub when John Keats was born, an establishment Thomas later managed and where the growing family would live for some years, now the “Keats at the Globe”, a few yards from modern day Moorgate station.
Keats was baptised at St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate and sent to a local dame school as an infant. In the summer of 1803, he was sent to board, with his brother George, at the Clark school in Enfield run by headmaster John Clarke, close to his grandparents’ house in Ponders End. On 15 April 1804, only nine months after Keats had started at Enfield, his father died of a fractured skull, falling from his horse on a return visit to the school. Thomas died intestate. Frances remarried two months afterwards, but quickly left the new husband and, with her four children, went to live with the children’s grandmother, Alice Jennings, in the village of Edmonton, London
In March 1810, when Keats was fourteen, his mother died, leaving the children in the custody of their grandmother. Jennings appointed two guardians to take care of her new charges. In autumn 1810, Keats was removed from Clarke’s school to become a surgeon’s apprentice at Thomas Hammond’s apothecary shop in Edmonton. Charles Cowden Clarke, a close school friend of Keats, described this time as “the most placid time in [Keats’] painful life”. He lodged with Hammond and slept in the attic above the surgery.
His first surviving poem – An Imitation of Spenser – comes in 1814, when Keats was nineteen. On 1 October 1815, Keats registered to become a student at Guy’s Hospital (now part of King’s College London) where he would study for five years. Within a month of starting, he was accepted for a ‘dressership’ position within the hospital – a significant promotion, which he took up in March the following year. During his time at Guys, he lived in various rooms near London Bridge.
He was also devoting increasing time to the study of literature. On 5 May 1816, Leigh Hunt, a poet and critic greatly admired by Keats, agreed to publish the sonnet O Solitude. Hunt’s Examiner was “the leading liberal magazine of the day”. It is the first appearance of Keats’ poems in print and Charles Cowden Clarke refers to it as his friend’s “red letter day” , first proof that John’s ambitions were not ridiculous. In the summer of that year he went down to the coastal town of Margate with Clarke to write. Here he began Calidore and initiated the era of his great letter writing.
In October, Clarke personally introduced Keats to Leigh Hunt and five months later, on March 3 1817, Poems, his first volume of verse, was published. It was a critical failure. Hunt introduced Keats to many influential men in his circle, including editor of The Times Thomas Barnes, writer Charles Lamb, conductor Vincent Novello and poet John Hamilton Reynolds, who would become a close friend. Hunt went on to publish an essay on Three Young Poets (Shelley, Keats and Reynolds), along with the sonnet on Chapman’s Homer, promising great things to come. Andrew Motion suggests in his biography that this represents a decisive turning point for Keats as “he was now established in the eyes of the world as a member of, what Hunt called, ‘a new school of poetry’ “.
Endymion, on its eventual publication, was also ferociously damned by the critics, giving rise to Byron’s quip that Keats was ultimately “snuffed out by an article.” William Gifford wrote in The Quarterly Review:
“It is not that Mr. Keats (if that be his real name, for we almost doubt that any man in his senses would put his real name to such a rhapsody) — it is not, we say, that the author has not powers of language, rays of fancy, and gleams of genius. He has all these; but he is unhappily a disciple of the new school of what has been somewhere called ‘Cockney Poetry,’ which may be defined to consist of the most incongruous ideas in the most uncouth language. … He seems to us to write a line at random, and then he follows, not the thought excited by this line, but that suggested by the rhyme with which it concludes. There is hardly a complete couplet enclosing a complete idea in the whole book. He wonders from one subject to another, from the association, not of ideas, but of sounds …”
John Gibson Lockhart wrote in Blackwoods Magazine
“To witness the disease of any human understanding, however feeble, is distressing; but the spectacle of an able mind reduced to a state of insanity is of course ten times more afflicting. It is with such sorrow as this that we have contemplated the case of Mr John Keats. … He was bound apprentice some years ago to a worthy apothecary in town. But all has been undone by a sudden attack of the malady. … For some time we were in hopes, that he might get off with a violent fit or two; but of late the symptoms are terrible. The phrenzy of the “Poems” was bad enough in its way; but it did not alarm us half so seriously as the calm, settled, imperturbable drivelling idiocy of Endymion.[…] Back to the [apothecary] shop Mr John, back to ‘plasters, pills, and ointment boxes.’”
It was Lockhart at Blackwoods that had coined the defamatory term “the Cockney School” for Hunt and his circle, including Hazlitt and, squarely, Keats. The dismissal was as much political as literary – aimed at upstart young writers deemed ‘uncooth’ for their lack of education and ‘low diction’. They had not attended Eton, Harrow or Oxbridge colleges – they were not from the upper classes.
Unhappy with living in London and in bad health, Keats moved into rooms at 1 Well Walk, in April 1817, with his brothers. Both John and George nursed their brother Tom, who was suffering from tuberculosis. The house in Hampstead was close to Hunt and others from his circle, as well as the senior poet Coleridge, living in Highgate.
In June 1818, Keats began a walking journey around Scotland, Ireland and the lake district with his friend Charles Armitage Brown. George and his wife Georgina accompanied them as far as Lancaster and then headed to Liverpool, from where the couple would emigrate to America. (They lived in Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky until 1841 when George’s investments went bad. Like both his brothers, he would die penniless and racked by tuberculosis. There would be no effective treatment for the disease till 1921.)
In July, while on Mull for the walking tour, Keats caught a bad cold and by August Brown writes that his friend “was too thin and fevered to proceed on the journey”. On his return south, Keats continued to nurse Tom, continuously exposing himself to the highly infectious disease. Motion argues “It was on Mull that Keats’ short life started to end, and his slow death began”, although biographers disagree on when the first signs of tuberculosis appear. ‘Consumption’ was not identified as a single disease till 1820 and there was considerable stigma attached to the infection – often being associated with weakness, repressed sexual passion or masturbation. Keats “refuses to give it a name” in his letters. Tom Keats died on 1 December.
John Keats moved again, to live in Brown’s house, the newly built, Wentworth Place, also on the edge of Hampstead Heath, slightly south of Well Walk. The Keats poems Fancy and Bards of passion and of mirth were inspired by the gardens. Keats composed five of his six great odes in April and May and, although it is debated in which order they were written, Ode to Psyche starts the series. According to Brown, Ode to a Nightingale was composed under their mulberry tree. He says
In the spring of 1819 a nightingale had built her nest near my house. Keats felt a tranquil and continual joy in her song; and one morning he took his chair from the breakfast-table to the grass-plot under a plum-tree, where he sat for two or three hours. When he came into the house, I perceived he had some scraps of paper in his hand, and these he was quietly thrusting behind the books. On inquiry, I found those scraps, four or five in number, contained his poetic feelings on the song of our nightingale.
Dilke, co-owner of the house, strenuously denied the story, as it was printed in Milnes’ 1848 biography of Keats, and dismissed it as “pure delusion”. Wentworth Place now houses the Keats’ House museum.
At this time he met the eighteen year old Frances (Fanny) Brawne, who eventually lived next door to Wentworth Place with her widowed mother. Fanny was also a Londoner – born in the hamlet of West End near Hampstead on 9 August 1800. Her grandfather had run a London inn, as Keats’ father had done, and had lost several members of her family to tuberculosis. She also shared her christian name with the sister and mother of Keats. He fell in love with Fanny and a year later they were betrothed, although the engagement was later broken off as his health worsened. Fanny’s letters to Keats were, as the poet had requested, destroyed upon his death. However, in 1937, a collection of 31 letters, written by Fanny Brawne to Frances, the sister of Keats, was published by Oxford University Press.
In 1819, during his time at Wentworth, also he wrote The Eve of St. Agnes, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Hyperion Otho (critically slammed and not dramatised till 1950) and Lamia. In September, very short of money, he approached his publishers with his new poems. They were unimpressed with the collection, finding the presented versions of Lamia confusing, and describing St Agnes as having a “sense of pettish disgust” and “a ‘Don Juan’ style of mingling up sentiment and sneering […] a poem unfit for ladies”
On 21 September, Keats wrote to his friend Reynolds, introducing his last great ode: To Autumn. He says
“How beautiful the season is now – How fine the air. A temperate sharpness about it […]I never lik’d the stubbled fields as much as now – Aye, better than the chilly green of spring. Somehow the stubble plain looks warm – in the same way as some pictures look warm – this struck me so much in my Sunday’s walk that I composed upon it”.
It would go on, long after his death, to become one of the most highly praised poems in the English language. The final volume Keats lived to see —Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems – was eventually published in July 1820.
During 1820 Keats began showing increasingly serious signs of tuberculosis and suffered two lung haemorrhages in the first few days of February. He lost large amounts of blood in the attacks and was then bled further by his attending physician. At the suggestion of his doctors, he agreed to leave London and move to Italy with his friend Joseph Severn. On 13th September, he left for Gravesend and four days later Keats and Severn boarded the sailing brig The Maria Crowther. Keats wrote his final version of Bright Star aboard the ship.
On arrival in Italy, he moved into a villa on the Spanish Steps in Rome, (now the Keats-Shelley Memorial House, a museum that is dedicated to their life and work). Despite attentive care from Severn and Dr. John Clark, the poet’s health rapidly deteriorated. According to a biography of Severn, the medical attention Keats was given may have hastened his end. When Keats arrived in Rome in November 1820, Dr Clark is said to have declared that the source of his illness was “mental exertions and application” and that his illness was chiefly “situated in his Stomach”. He finally diagnosed consumption (now called tuberculosis) and put Keats on a starvation diet—an anchovy and a piece of bread a day—to reduce the blood flow to his stomach. He also bled Keats, which was a standard treatment of the day but would have contributed to his weakness.
John Keats died on 23 February 1821 and was buried in the Protestant Cemetery, Rome. His last request was to be buried under a tombstone, without his name, and bearing only the legend Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water. Severn and Brown erected such a stone, and under the relief of a lyre with broken strings, they added:
contains all that was mortal,
YOUNG ENGLISH POET,
on his Death Bed,
in the Bitterness of his heart,
at the Malicious Power of his Enemies,
Desired these Words to be engraven on his Tomb Stone
“Here lies One
Whose Name was writ in Water”
This was written in protest to the critical reception of the Keats’s work. Shelley blamed Keats’s death on a scathing attack on Endymion, carried in an article published several years earlier, in the Quarterly Review. The article was long believed to have been written by William Gifford, though later shown to be the work of John Wilson Croker. Shelley memorialised Keats in his poem Adonais. In his biography Motion says “Shelley promoted Keats as someone whose achievement could not be separated from agony, who was ‘spiritualised’ by his decline, and […] simply too fine-tuned to endure the buffetings of the world”. This is the consumptive, suffering image popularly held today.
As a poet of the Romantic school, his inspiration often comes from a new regard for wild, untrammelled, and “pure” nature. His work reflects other Romantic themes such as medievalism (Isabella), the heroic isolation of the narrator (Ode to a Nightingale), folk lore (The Eve of St. Agnes), classical myth (Lamia or Hyperion), and the primacy of freedom and feeling (Ode on Melancholy). He found great inspiration in poets such as Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, and Dryden.
Keats’ odes, which many consider to be his most distinctive poetical achievements, were all composed in 1819. Algernon Charles Swinburne, in his entry on Keats for the 1882 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, was scathing in his criticism of Keats’s early poems
“The rawest and the rankest rubbish of his fitful spring, … frequently detestable, a mixture of sham Spenserian and mock Wordsworthian, alternately florid and arid… some of the most vulgar and fulsome doggrel ever whimpered by a vapid and effeminate rhymester in the sickly stage of whelphood”
but rapt in admiration for Keats’s “unequalled and unrivalled odes,” about which he wrote:
“Of these perhaps the two nearest to absolute perfection, to the triumphant achievement and accomplishment of the very utmost beauty possible to human words, may be that to Autumn and that on a Grecian Urn ; the most radiant, fervent, and musical is that to a Nightingale; the most pictorial and perhaps the tenderest in its ardour of passionate fancy is that to Psyche; the subtlest in sweetness of thought and feeling is that on Melancholy. Greater lyrical poetry the world may have seen than any that is in these; lovelier it surely has never seen, nor ever can it possibly see… The Ode to a Nightingale, [is] one of the final masterpieces of human work in all time and for all ages “
The death of Keats inspired Shelley to write the poem Adonais.
Byron later composed a short poem on Shelley’s theme employing the phrase “snuffed out by an article.” However, Byron, far less admiring of the poetry of Keats than Shelley and generally more cynical in nature, was here probably just as much poking fun at Shelley’s interpretation as he was having a dig at the critics.
The largest collection of the letters, manuscripts, and other papers of Keats is in the Houghton Library at Harvard University. Other collections of such material can be found at the British Library; Keats House, Hampstead; the Keats-Shelley Memorial House in Rome; and the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.
The 2009 film Bright Star, written and directed by Jane Campion, focuses on Keats’ relationship with Fanny Brawne.
Marguerite Johnson was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 4, 1928. Her father, Bailey Johnson, was a doorman and navy dietitian and her mother Vivian (Baxter) Johnson, was a real estate agent, trained surgical nurse, and later, a merchant marine. Angelou’s older brother, Bailey Jr., nicknamed Marguerite “Maya”, shortened from “my-a-sister”. The details of Angelou’s life, although described in her six autobiographies and in numerous interviews, speeches, and articles, tend to be inconsistent. Her biographer, Mary Jane Lupton, when speaking about these inconsistencies, has explained that when Angelou has spoken about her life, she has done so eloquently but informally and “with no time chart in front of her”.
Angelou is one of the most honored writers of her generation. She has been honored by universities, literary organizations, government agencies, and special interest groups. Her honors include a National Book Award nomination for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a Pulitzer Prize nomination for her book of poetry, Just Give Me A Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Diiie, a Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 play Look Away, and three Grammys for her spoken word albums. In 1995, Angelou’s publishing company, Bantam Books, recognized her for having the longest-running record (two years) on The New York Times Paperback Nonfiction Bestseller List. She has served on two presidential committees, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000and the Lincoln Medal in 2008. Musician Ben Harper has honored Angelou with his song “I’ll Rise”, which includes words from her poem, “And Still I Rise.” She has been awarded over thirty honorary degrees
Poetess, Novelist and Short Story Writer
Writing period: 1960 till 1963
The Bed Book (1976)
The It-Doesn’t-Matter-Suit (1996)
Collected Children’s Stories (UK, 2001)
Mrs. Cherry’s Kitchen (2001)
The Colossus and Other Poems (1960)
Ariel (1965), includes the poems “Tulips“, “Daddy” and “Lady Lazarus“
Three Women: A Monologue for Three Voices (1968)
Crossing the Water (1971)
Winter Trees (1971)
The Collected Poems (1981)
Selected Poems (1985)
Plath: Poems (1998)
The Bell Jar (1963), under the pseudonym “Victoria Lucas”
Letters Home (1975)
Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams (1977)
The Journals of Sylvia Plath (1982)
The Magic Mirror (1989), Plath’s Smith College senior thesis
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, edited by Karen V. Kukil (2000)