John Keats Was An Opium Addict

John Keats, the poet of “beauty”, a devotee of aesthetic isolation who swooned at the thought of his so-called “bright star” Fanny Brawne and succumbed to TB when he was 25, was an opium addict. The claim is made in a new biography, to be published on Monday, by Prof Nicholas Roe, chair of the Keats Foundation and a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Roe admits his finding will be contentious. “This has never been said before: Keats as an opium addict is new,” he said. I don’t think any lover of literature can claim to be shocked, shocked at this conclusion. For one thing, other experts have previously concluded that Keats experimented with the drug, albeit briefly. Second, the number of Romantics — the number of artists in general — who haven’t been chained to drugs or drink is probably a lot lower than the number of those who have been. Next.

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