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New Beginnings at Keats House

Festival this week celebrates Romantic poet.

Keats Festival

The Keats Festival starts this week, Thursday 28th May, and runs until Sunday 7th June at Keats House, 10 Keats Grove, London NW3 2RR.

This year’s Keats Festival is themed New Beginnings, celebrating a new era in the House’s history with innovative new object displays and interactive exhibits.

The Festival – with its exciting programme of performances, talks, films, workshops and family activities – also introduces Michael Rosen (fifth British Children’s Laureate) as the new Poet in Residence at Keats House.

Keats House was the home of Romantic poet John Keats from 1818 to 1820. Here, he wrote his most famous poetry and fell in love with the girl next door, Fanny Brawne. In part, the House functions as a shrine to a literary icon whose life was cut tragically short but it also seeks to be a ‘live memorial’ to inspire and engages diverse audiences with Keats’s life, work and legacy.

As part of this re-interpretation, iconic manuscripts and artefacts from the museum collection have been brought out of storage. The house is now suffused with Keats’s poetry; there are recordings of his most famous works, the original books which inspired him, and paintings that helped to popularise his work after his death.

New displays celebrate the romance between Keats and Fanny; visitors can look at original artefacts which belonged to Fanny, listen to extracts from Keats’s passionate letters and poetry and see the love letter that he wrote to her from his sick bed. The interactive exhibits also seek to better engage families with Regency dressing-up opportunities and poetry writing outlets.

There are free family activities every month on Family Day.

Highlights of the Keats Festival include:

  • Poetry and Illustration for Families (Saturday 30th May, 1pm)
  • Keats House Poets present Dean Atta and Hannah Lowe (Sunday 31st May, 2pm)
  • Imtiaz Dharker and TEN (Wednesday 3rd June, 7pm)
  • The Beats: A Night of Film Poetry and Coutnerculture (Friday 5th June, 6.30pm for 7pm)
  • Poetry and Parenting with Clare Pollard, Fiona Benson, Daljit Nagra and Owen Sheers (Saturday 6th June, 2pm)
  • Festival Finale with John Hegley, Jo Shapcott, Daljit Nagra and Michael Rosen (Sunday 7th June, 4.30pm)

Vicky Carroll, Principal Curator, comments, “This is an extremely exciting time for Keats House as we enter into a new era. We are delighted that funding from Arts Council England has enabled us to bring iconic items from the collection out of the stores and put them on public display so that, through them, everyone can enjoy and learn about Keats’s inspirational life and poetry.”

Michael Rosen comments, “I am thrilled and honoured to be a writer-in-residence at Keats House, a place I’ve known for a good few years. I was lucky enough to study Keats at university; his life
and work have the power to inspire reflection and wonder. I hope this carries through to the writing I will do at the House and the events I help to put on.”

A full festival guide can be seen online at www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/keatsfestival.

Follow on Twitter @keatshouse.

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