John Keats’ love-letter expected to fetch 120K pounds

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

LONDON - A love-letter in which the poet John Keats, already mortally ill, vowed to kiss Fanny Brawne’s signature-since he could not kiss and risk infecting her- is expected to fetch 120,000 pounds at an auction.

Keats corresponded daily with many friends who cherished the letters after his death in Rome at 26 from tuberculosis, which had already destroyed his brothers, reports The Guardian.

He was still living next door to Brawne in Hampstead when he wrote this one in 1820, but was often too ill to see her.

He wrote on the envelope “you had better not come today”, but assured her of what he could hardly have believed, having watched his brother Tom die: that “health is my expected heaven”.

Keats and Brawne’s love affair, and his letters, featured in the 2009 film ‘Bright Star.’ Critics as well as his friends regarded the letters as remarkable.

Joseph Severn, the artist who was with Keats when he died, wrote that many of them “contained quite as fine poetry as any of his actual poems.”

The collector and poet Roy David is selling the note along with more than 500 other manuscripts and portraits, including a letter from Sir Walter Raleigh, an essay by William Blake, an unpublished speech by Winston Churchill and a wealth of material relating to the late poet laureate Ted Hughes.

David said: “It is a mark of Keats’s poetic genius and the power of his imagination that the words of this letter fall so naturally into the rhythm of verse. To own a manuscript by Keats is really the closest you can get to him both physically and mentally. In some degree it is an act of worship.”

Bonham’s in London will auction the collection in March. (ANI)

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