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John Keats: Minute Biography

Happy Halloween and happy birthday to poet John Keats, born 31 October 1795. 

We have here a page from Minute Biographies: Intimate Glimpses into the Lives of 150 Famous Men and Women, published in 1931 by Samuel Nisenson and Alfred Parker.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever” is the first line from the John Keats poem Endymion, based on the Greek myth of a shepherd who falls in love with a goddess. Now considered a great work, it was panned by critics at the time.

That broke Keats’s heart, so they say. That’s why he died so young. Well, it was either that or, as the Minute Biography says, from “living in the open continuously,” which then gave him tuberculosis.

Like England’s Henry Fielding, Keats traveled to a more southern country in an effort to save his health. Like Fielding, he didn’t make it.

These days Keats is mostly remembered as the guy who wrote “Ode on a Grecian Urn” because the word “urn” fits so nicely into crossword puzzles. But for autumn, try reading Ode on Melancholy.

Read the Who2 biography of John Keats for more. And Happy Halloween.

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