Keats is the first major biography of this tragic hero of romanticism for some thirty years, and it differs from its predecessors in important respects. The outline of the story is well known - has become, in fact, the stuff of legend: the archetypal life of the tortured genius, critically spurned and dying young.
What Andrew Motion brings to bear on the subject is a deep understanding of how Keats fitted into the intellectual and political life of his time. Important friendships with such anti-establishment figures as William Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt are given their full due, and the closeness of his own spirit, as expressed in his poems, to the ferment all around is made clear. Many significant new facts about Keats's schooldays and medical training, in particular, enrich the picture. Keats emerges as a more political figure than he is usually portrayed, but his personal sufferings, too, come into closer focus. Most importantly, Andrew Motion - himself a distinguished poet and former poet laureate - demonstrates how the poems continue to exert their power.
'A definitive life of a great poet, and one of the finest biographies of the decade.' New Statesman
Andrew Motion was Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009; he is Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and co-founder of the online Poetry Archive. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, and has published four celebrated biographies. His group study The Lamberts won the Somerset Maugham Award and his authorised life of Philip Larkin won the Whitbread Prize for Biography. Andrew Motion's novella The Invention of Dr Cake (2003) was described as 'amazingly clever' by the Irish Times and praised for 'brilliant and almost hallucinatory vividness' by the Sunday Telegraph. His memoir, In the Blood (2006), was described as 'the most moving and exquisitely written account of childhood loss I have ever read' in the Independent on Sunday. His most recent collection of poems is The Customs House (2012). Andrew Motion was knighted for his services to poetry in 2009. In 2014 he received the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award.