Letter #49: To George and Tom Keats, 30 January 1818

The second letter for today is one that has been known about for a long time, but not known in full until the mid-1990s. It was quoted from in an 1877 article in Harper’s by Edward F. Madden, who saw the letter in Louisville while visiting with Emma Keats Speed, the poet’s niece. It must have been some time after that visit that EKS gave the letter in question to Sally Fauntleroy Sears, who later gave it to her niece Juliet Fauntleroy. The rest of the story is really better told by Dearing Lewis, the nephew of Juliet Fauntleroy, who wrote about the discovery of the letter for Romantic Circles back in November 1998. We encourage you to visit there to learn about the letter’s fascinating history, and for the text of the letter.

Once you’ve done that, then you certainly need to read Arden Hegele’s response to the letter, which brilliantly takes up Keats’s comment about “gelding” book one of Endymion. It’s a fascinating analysis, one attuned to the multiple resonances of that term for Keats, particularly as someone with a background in surgical procedure. And let’s not forget about the fact that this letter includes some bawdy verses from Horace Smith about Horace Twiss (keep your Horaces straight, everyone). Hegele also makes excellent connections between this late-January letter and some of what we’ve seen from others earlier in the month. It’s a great response to bring January to a close!

For the text of the letter, we direct you, as above, to the Romantic Circles post from Dearing Lewis. Enjoy!

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