John Keats walks Romantic Scotland, Summer 1818: An Illustrated Bicentenary Lecture
Keats’ first published poem, his sonnet To Solitude, announced a creative conjunction of places and verbal patterns that would reappear in nearly everything he wrote. Each of the four books of Endymion was written at a different place – at Carisbrooke, Margate, Hampstead, Oxford, Burford Bridge and Box Hill – and those places shaped the verbal landscapes in his poem. The opening lines, for instance, are set on the Isle of Wight near Carisbrooke Castle; I stood tiptoe describes scenes and sights on Hampstead Heath; Sleep and Poetry surveys Leigh Hunt's study at the Vale of Health; Isabella turns Teignmouth into Tuscany; and Lamia, set in classical Corinth, draws some scenic props from the ancient cathedral city, Winchester. Even the cider press in To Autumn had a local habitation, in the precincts of St Cross Hospital.
In this illustrated talk, Professor Nicholas Roe wants to salute an energetic, physically active Keats for whom 'footing slow' through the mountains of Scotland stirred his imagination and the iambic pulse of his poetry. Hopefully we will start to see Keats as a poet of place – as much as, and maybe more than, William Wordsworth – who never wrote a sonnet on the summit of Ben Nevis.
Seminar hosted by the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Contemporary Culture research unit, and the English and Theatre Studies Program in the School of Culture and Communication, Faculty of Arts, The University of Melbourne.
Image: Historical portraits; some notes on the painted portraits of celebrated characters of England, Scotland and Ireland (1897) (detail)
Professor Nicholas Roe, Wardlaw Professor of English Literature
Professor Nicholas Roe
Wardlaw Professor of English Literature
University of St Andrews
Nicholas Roe is Wardlaw Professor of English Literature. He is the author of critically acclaimed biographies and studies including 'John Keats: A New Life, Fiery Heart: The First Life of Leigh Hunt', 'Wordsworth and Coleridge: The Radical Years', and 'John Keats and the Culture of Dissent'. He was born in 1955 in England's West Country, and lived for many years on the edge of Dartmoor at Yelverton and Clearbrook. He was educated at the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe (196774), and Trinity College, Oxford (197582), before joining the English Department at Queen's University, Belfast(19825). He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and an Honorary Fellow of the English Association. He was a Trustee of The KeatsShelley Memorial Association 19972015 and of The Wordsworth Trust 20102017. He is Chair of The Keats Foundation, and a trustee of The Wordsworth Conference Foundation. His most recent book is an edited collection, 'John Keats and the Medical Imagination' (2017).