Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Keats” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.17  ·  Rating details ·  349 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Keats is the first major biography of this tragic hero of romanticism for some thirty years, and it differs from its predecessors in important respects. The outline of the story is well known - has become, in fact, the stuff of legend: the archetypal life of the tortured genius, critically spurned and dying young.

What Andrew Motion brings to bear on the subject is a deep u
Paperback, 636 pages
Published 1997 by Faber and Faber
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Keats, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Keats

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  349 ratings  ·  38 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Keats
Apr 02, 2012 added it
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 sprawl ...more
Sep 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
May 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm at a bit of a loss for words. This book has been somewhere on my person pretty much wherever I've gone for the past three months, and I feel like I've been put into close conversation with Keats and his contemporaries as if they were all people I really knew. Motion is such a good biographer that explaining how poignant and fair and strikingly detailed this life story is is almost impossible.

First, a little background: I spent my senior year of undergrad deeply immersed in Keats's poetry, it
Samuel Gee
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Keats — pretentious, overbearing, hyper-enthusiastic, self-hating misogynist. Produced long narrative poems that all mostly suck (w flashes of total genius), a handful of sonnets (mostly great w a few immortals), and a smattering of perfect odes. (And the letters!) Then he just keeled over. Keats had just shaken off most of his juvenilia when he died. When you realize Mozart lives a full decade longer you start to realize the sheer loss.
Catherine Siemann
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romantics
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. ...more
Julie Bozza
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I never had the privilege of studying John Keats at school, so I came to him via a less expected path: reading the science fiction novel Hyperion by Dan Simmons. In that futuristic tale, the historical Keats has been cloned and augmented as a 'cybrid', and goes on an adventure with a detective named Brawne Lamia. I was intrigued enough to want to know more!

I soon stumbled across this biography by Andrew Motion, which has been my key text for years. I came to really love the feisty and engaged y
Feb 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"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
Dec 10, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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
Feb 21, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
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 people w ...more
Sep 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Naji Mokh
A wonderful poet once you read his poems you discover the plagiarism committed by the Arabian so called poet "ADONIS". ...more
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating, incredibly detailed biography. Motion offers extensive historical context for Keats’ life and work, along with thoughtful analysis of his poetry. Much of his analysis reframes the political and social commentary of Keats’ writing, a fresh approach to work that is often viewed as “outside of time” or purely sensual.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about Keats, his circle, and his family. Despite the length, Motion’s writing is engaging and ap
Mj Zander
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's rare when a biography can make you feel attached to the subject. I don't mean as in an emotional attachment, which certainly was part of it for me, but I mean attached to their world as if you were there with them, seeing it for yourself instead of just reading about it. That is exactly what Andrew Motion has done with this biography of Keats. Through literary analysis, accounts of those who knew Keats, and through Keats' own letters, Motion makes Keats feel very real. While reading this I ...more
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"It surprised me that the human heart is capable of containing and bearing so much misery."
I love John Keats even more after having read this, and am more saddened than ever by the fact that we'll never know what he would have gone on to write, had he survived.
Melody Nelson
Way too much literally criticism. If you just have a casual interest in Keats but would like to understand the man and it’s time this book is not for you.
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This is a very comprehensive biography, with the density I associate with college textbooks. I think it includes everything you could possibly want to know about his life and also a great deal of textual analysis. Keats is a fascinating person and it's both interesting and somewhat disturbing to look so closely at his life and genius. I'm glad I read it even though it is a much more academic book than I generally read. ...more
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: uni, favorites
This is one of my favourites! I used this heavily when I was writing my dissertation as it was one of the most recently published book on the poet available to me. I used Gittings, Bloom, Hunt and Plumly (and others I can't remember) obviously, but Motion was like a breath of fresh air. His understanding of Keats came from an entirely different direction. He seemed to be free of political bias and created a Keats that wasn't just a poor boy whom nobody loved. Motion's Keats was astounding and ra ...more
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Mark Bruce
Oct 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spoiler: Keats achieves his dearest dream of becoming one of the great English poets in the end. About thirty years after his death.
This is a detailed and well written biography of the seminal "poet who died too young." One might think that a man who lived only 25 years would have a short bio, but Motion puts Keats in context with his times and politics. Every detail of the poet's short life is examined, and the poetry is critiqued closely. Safe to say that when you have finished thus book, you
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read Andrew Motion's biography because Jane Campion read it and was inspired to create the film "Bright Star." The film is remarkable, so very, very beautiful.

Motion brings Keats, his contemporaries, his times vividly to life and shatters the tired, inaccurate myths about him. Keats was dynamic, alive, brilliant, progressive in his politics, courageous, and compassionate. He longed to "do good in the world" through poetry.

Like Campion, I was unprepared for the force and poignancy
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
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. ...more
Mark Bennett
Aug 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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.
Dec 17, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm not quite sure how Motion managed this, when he has such an interesting story to tell, but this is one of the dullest biographies I've read. It was really hard going and I ended up skimming through to the end. Disappointing. ...more
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... ...more
Jacqueline Burns-Walters
Oh Keats!
Why did you have to die so young, with so many possibilities?
He is very inspiring.
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!
library book. i ordered it after seeing a movie about him that was intriguing.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • John Keats: A New Life
  • This Is Shakespeare
  • Young Romantics: The Tangled Lives of English Poetry's Greatest Generation
  • Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
  • The Suffragettes
  • Memoirs
  • Figuring
  • The Abstainer
  • At Home: A Short History of Private Life
  • Girl in a Green Gown: The History and Mystery of the Arnolfini Portrait
  • The Winter's Tale
  • How Much of These Hills Is Gold
  • The Poem: Lyric, Sign, Metre
  • Hegel: A Biography
  • The Vanishing Velázquez: A 19th-Century Bookseller's Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece
  • September 1, 1939: A Biography of a Poem
  • Crudo
  • The Outrun: A Memoir
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

  Walter Isaacson, it’s safe to say, is not afraid of tackling the really big topics. In 2011, he wrote about our ubiquitous computer culture...
101 likes · 19 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »