Life of John Keats

Life   of   Keats
John Keats was born on 31 October 1795 (probably), first child of Thomas Keats and Frances Jennings Keats, who had apparently eloped1. Everything was pretty ordinary for all concerned for a while--the Keatses had three more sons (George and Thomas, plus Edward who died as a baby) and one daughter, Frances, by 1803. That was also the year when John went away to school at Enfield. In 1804, John's father was killed in a fall from a horse. Just over two months later, for mysterious reasons, Frances remarried, to a London bank clerk named William Rawlings. Frances quickly decided she'd made some sort of terrible error and left, taking nothing with her since the laws of the time decreed that all her property and even her children belonged to her husband. Frances' mother, Alice, swept in and took custody of the children, but she could do nothing about the Swan and Hoop, which Rawlings sold immediately before disappearing. It was around this time that John became prone to fistfights, which he rarely lost even though he was small for his age2.
Frances reappeared suddenly in 1809, ill and depressed from many years of depending on the kindness of strangers3. John was overjoyed to see her and took care of her devotedly, but it was soon obvious that she had consumption4. She died in 1810, a year or so after her brother died of the same disease. John was crushed, and turned from fighting to studying. A year later, one of his financial guardians, a man named Abbey, sat him down and asked John what he'd like to do for a living. John had already considered the question, and replied that he'd like to be a surgeon5. So he was duly apprenticed to a surgeon named Hammond who lived in the neighborhood.
It was in 1813 that John first started reading lyric poetry6, most notably works by Sir Edmund Spenser like "The Faerie Queen." It was also around this time that John began to really rebel against Hammond7. The following year, Grandmother Jennings died, and the family...