Letter #32: To Jane Reynolds, 31 October 1817

While in the midst of writing his multi-day letter to Bailey, Keats dined with the Reynoldses on 29 October. As he told Bailey when he returned to letter later that evening, he had found Jane a bit under the weather. On 31 October, he decided to send her a bit of his latest from Endymion, with the hope of “helping away for you five Minutes of the day.” What a guy. And he’s doing this on his birthday! Which, by the way, happy birthday, Keats! On completing his 22nd year, Keats had one book of poetry published under his name, and he was only a few hundred lines from completing the poem that would become his second book. Quite the precocious little scamp.

The MS of today’s letter is at Yale’s Beinecke Library, where they have a few Keats letters. Sadly, the KLP has been derelict in its duty of requesting images of said MS. So we can’t share that with you yet, but we shall update this post should we manage to emerge from our indolence.

The letter as first published in Amy Lowell’s biography (1925). She had access to it through Frederick Holland Day, who owned the letter at the time, and who was, like Lowell, one of the Bostonian “Keats lovers” who did so much to preserve and advance Keats’s legacy around the turn of the century. Ann Rowland has been doing fantastic work on Keats’s American reception, and you can find her latest on the topic in the most recent issue of the Keats-Shelley Journal! We’re not sure how the letter ended up at Yale, although Rollins notes that someone named Mitchell Kennerley owned it after Holland Day did. Again, were we not indolent (and pressed for time!), the KLP could tell you more. But for now, that’s it–time to go trick-or-treating!

Keats’s 31 Oct 1817 letter to Jane Reynolds (from The Letters of John Keats, ed. Hyder Edward Rollins, Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1958.)


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