Keats: A thing of beauty is a joy forever

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

This weekend sees the 220th birthday of English Romantic poet John Keats.

The title of this post, perhaps made famous more recently by Mary Poppins, is taken from Keats’ work ‘Endymion’.  The poem is based on the Greek myth in which the eponymous young shepherd attracts the attentions of moon goddess Selene.  Although ‘Endymion’ was one of Keats’ more infamously criticized poems, it can also be considered a landmark in his career.  Keats himself described Endymion as, “a test, a trail of my Powers of Imagination and chiefly of my invention which is a rare thing indeed…”  (Gittings, 1971, p209)

The UMASCS library holds a rather lovely (and large!) edition of the poem from 1873 containing detailed engravings on steel by F. Joubert from paintings by E.J. Poynter:

Engraving from Keats' Endymion

Engraving from Keats’ Endymion

 

Another beautifully illustrated edition of Keats’ work is this 1903 text, part of the Red Letter Library series, published by The Gresham Publishing Company.  It features delicate Art Nouveau illustrations by Talwin Morris:

Photo 28-10-2015, 16 15 58

Art Nouveau illustrations

The book is stored in our Printing Collection as an example of the ‘Glasgow Style’ which flourished at the end of the nineteenth century.  For more information about Talwin Morris visit our exhibition page here.

To find out more about Keats, Gittings’ biography is available in the UMASCS open access book reference collections at call number: Mark Longmann Library 821.78 KEA/GIT

Sources: Gittings, R. (1971) John Keats.  Harmondsworth: Pelican Books

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