The public has waited and we’ve urned it. It took around two years and half a million pounds, but the London home where poet John Keats composed On a Grecian Urn, On Melancholy, and La Belle Dame Sans Merci is set to reopen this Friday. The Grade I listed house in Hampstead (a museum since 1925) is also where Keats (the man who knocked up the girl next door) wrote Ode to A Nightingale in the garden. Now schoolchildren around the world know where to direct their molotov cocktails of ire.
Keats House has been restored to its original 19th century decor and will house various artifacts such as the engagement ring he gave Fanny Brawne (the aforementioned girl next door with whom he had a less than amicable split). It will also house Keats’ life mask, prints, drawings and other poetic tat English Literature teachers can hum and haw to in deference.
Having lived in the Regency villa yards from Hampstead Heath between 1818-1820, he then set off for Rome, had his portrait done staring pensively askance with his chin on his hand, and died of tuberculosis at the age of 25.
The City of London has been responsible for the house since 1997. The restoration project involved the City’s London Metropolitan Archives team and a £424,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Michael Welbank, chairman of the City’s Hampstead Heath management committee, said: “The house and garden have been been beautifully restored to a living environment that John Keats would have recognised almost 200 years ago.”
Sure. Until you GoogleEarth the fucker. Or try to explain to him what electricity and a Dyson hand dryer is. Still, Welbank is confident that the house will be a “relevant and powerful landmark” and looks forward to “welcoming even more people from around the world”. Great. More Americans.
The house, which Keats shared with his friend Charles Armitage Brown, was last renovated in 1976.
I’m expecting deferential crowds rubbernecking over cordons. Not the “insight into Keats’ life and loves” the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Wesley Kerr is hoping for. After all, where’s the negative capability in that?
Republished on the Who’s Jack Magazine Blog. All rights reserved.