Here are Keats’ own aspirations for his letter-writing. Whether he found interesting matter or just made matter interesting, his letters reveal a brilliantly alert, alive, playful, lovable human being. Andrew Motion’s splendid biography also comments on the pleasure and value of reading Keats’ correspondence, see below.


‘I wish to go on writing ad infinitum, to you – I wish for interesting matter, and a pen as swift as the wind.’


‘His letters are not simply a wonderful adjunct to this poems, but a vital and valuable part of them: they often serve as testing grounds for his theories and ideas, and always blend spontaneity and calculation in a way which allows us to see him in the round … In his letters he writes with brilliant directness.  No matter how deeply he is immersed in his own thoughts, he never loses sight of the person he is addressing, nor his sense of an intimate contact.  There is no strain in them, no anxiety about audience…’


Sources: 14-31 October 1818, John Keats, Selected Letters, ed. Robert Gittings (Oxford World Classics, 2002/2009), p. 157; Andrew Motion, Keats(Faber & Faber, 1997), p. 101

Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema at


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