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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  170 ratings  ·  23 reviews
John Keats (1795-1821) is one of the greatest and most loved of all English poets. Beyond the richness of his work, his poignant life has helped to define the modern paradigm of the poet's story. The son of a stable keeper, Keats was orphaned as a boy. He trained as a doctor but gave up his profession for poetry. He contracted tuberculosis while nursing his brother through...more
Hardcover, 636 pages
Published January 1st 1998 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published 1997)
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(showing 1-30 of 694)
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Jun 10, 2014 Jan-Maat added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: undaunted Romantics and ninteenth-century Radicals
At school sex and death (view spoiler) was provided via the medium of John Donne rather than by means of John Keats. So when I started to read a volume of John Keats' selected verse I wondered why somebody living in London at the beginning of the nineteenth century, when the city was already a metropolis with over a million inhabitants sprawli...more
I've been picking through this biography for a paper, and can't wait to sit down and read the whole thing! Keats was a fascinating and tragic figure.


I think I have some things to say about Keats, but it's late, and reading about the end of his life has made me sad. Review to come.


OK. Where to begin? I should mention that I've been a fan of Keats, as much as I can be a fan without being particularly skilled at reading and understanding poetry, for several years. The odes,...more
I don't tend towards biographies in general. Mostly because often too much in the way of factual content can be a little dry, no matter how it is presented.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed Motion's Keats immensely. I was a little apprehensive at first. I had basic facts and knowledge as a rough foundation, and some recollection of Keats from my university years (and the film Bright Star, ahem) but this was a whole other level.

Keats is synonymous with the idea of an inherently tragic figure, and rightly s...more
John Keats perhaps is my favorite of the Romantic poets. I favor Keats for the poetry and Chopin for the music- although they perhaps each alone bookmark the era. I see there are some similarities between him and Jim Morrison from our own era- however, differences perhaps outweigh the similarities.
Both men died young too young- Keats at 25, Morrison at 27. Both died foreign deaths, due to natural causes. Both were perhaps (arguably) the most talented of their peers, (and here I would argue, Mor...more
"To John Keats - Whose Name Was Writ in Eternity' -quoting Dan Simmons' dedication at the start of his Keats' inspired novel 'The Fall of Hyperion'.

My own review written for Amazon UK:

I approached Andrew Motion’s biography of John Keats with some apprehension - I am no expert, academic or poet. Having read and struggled through Richard Ellmann’s biography of Oscar Wilde Oscar Wilde a few years ago, I did wonder if I was going to enjoy Motion’s book at all.

I really need not have worried. This is...more
The full disclaimer is, I have not read this whole book, and I'm never going to. I just watched the movie Bright Star, about Keats & Fanny Brawne, and it was great, so I thought, maybe I'll finally read more of that massive Keats biography I bought back in the day when I had a plan of reading all his letters and poems and a bio & a critical study (HA!) and I did read the first 100 pages, and they were...not very interesting. This is really a book for Keats scholars, not post-grad school...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jane Campion on Charlie Rose said that when she turned 50 she felt that she needed to revisit and really understand poetry-referring to poetry as planting a garden in the mind. Keats being her focus and this biography being her first foray into understanding the poet.

This is a biography well worth delving into.
I love Keats' poetry but I found this biography dull and the picture it gives of Keats is frustrating. There is too much analysis of the poetry for an easy flowing biography. And Keats' improvidence annoyed me. Why ever would he expect to live on poetry writing alone? Even the wonderful Odes are not enough to sustain a lifetime's income, even for so short a life as Keats'. His refusal to earn by other means and his frustration at bad reviews and poor sales seem to be just not facing up to realit...more
Catherine Siemann
An excellent, thorough biography interspersed with solid readings of the poems -- Keats died at age 26, and somehow Motion's biography runs to nearly 600 pages without ever seeming unnecessarily detailed.
Incredibly well researched, but it is quite grueling in the beginning. Sometimes there is a bit too much literary criticism. At one point, I forgot where I was in Keats' life story, because Motion had been talking about one poem for so long. However, he hits his stride, and the book becomes impossible to set down. Good research, great notes, and a wonderful choice of images included.
Lullie Adams
A very interesting and very long version of someone's biography and views of Keats whom despite his short life, wasn't known for his luck but for such a grand work of arts.
Mark Bennett
The book that inspired Jane Campion to make her ripper and heart-rending film, "Bright Star."

A tome of a work, detailed and sensitive to the genius of Keats and his story.

Took me forever but it was oh so worth it. The last of the Keats cycle for me.
A dense, highly analytical look at Keats' life. I sometimes found Motion's style a little tough to follow (there were a couple of pages that my eyes kind of slid over and I had to go back), but it's a very fine biography of Keats.
It took me the better part of a month to finish this book and I still don't want to part with it! Don't let the length deter you, Motion makes Keats real. No wonder Jane Campion was inspired.
Beth Bonini
I spent about an hour today with my Keats. By age 15, Keats was an orphan -- and apprenticed to a doctor. I have a 15 year old, and we worry about her riding the train on her own!
Ian Hartley
I was full of great expectations knowing the author was a poet but I found Motion's style arid and lacking any real passion for his subject. this was quite an amazing discovery.
Rachel Murphy
Ah, just didn't have enough time to finish this before it needed to go back to the library. Will have to resume later...
Apr 09, 2010 Carol marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Saw the movie Bright Star, loved it, now I want to read the book that inspired Jane Campion to make the movie.
Jacqueline Burns-Walters
Oh Keats!
Why did you have to die so young, with so many possibilities?
He is very inspiring.
A highly detailed, insightful and honest account of the 19th century's most sensitive poet.
Super fantastic. I really enjoyed it. If you like Keats' poetry you will love this biography.
May 08, 2011 Stephanie marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2011, biography
library book. i ordered it after seeing a movie about him that was intriguing.
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Sir Andrew Motion, FRSL (born 26 October 1952) is an English poet, novelist and biographer, who presided as Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009.

Motion was appointed Poet Laureate on 1 May 1999, following the death of Ted Hughes, the previous incumbent. The Nobel Prize-winning Northern Irish poet and translator Seamus Heaney had ruled himself out for the post. Breaking with the tr...more
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