When I go to London I might visit Keats House. There’s a fascinating collection there, including many items which once belonged to Fanny Brawne, the woman who was betrothed to Keats. Some of the items are delicate, sensitive to light and cannot always be on display but you can read some of the letters from Keats to Fanny Brawne on the Keats House website.
Here’s a lifemask of Keats — which gives an amazing indication of what he actually looked like. He died at twenty-six, so probably did not have that long to live when this was done.
Keats was yet another to die at an early age from that the dreaded Tuberculosis, which cut a swathe through a saddening number of famous scribes. It would seem that at one point in time, wasting away and then dying young from consumption was almost an obligatory part of being a poet or a writer.
Even given the advances in public health, TB has not given up on us yet — as, worldwide, it is still one on the most common causes of death from infections disease (after HIV/AIDS).
On that cheerful note…