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A letter from John Keats to his sister Fanny

The opening page of a letter from Keats to his sister Fanny. BL Add. MS 34019, f.1
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Keats' letters have been described as 'the most notable and most important ever written by any English poet'. This, dated 10 September 1817, is the first of many lively and affectionate letters written to his sister Fanny at her boarding school outside London. As well as describing the beauties of Oxford, where he is staying with a friend at Magdalen Hall, he tells her the story of his new poem, 'Endymion', and promises to confide in her from now onwards as his `dearest friend'.

In this transcription of the first page of a manuscript letter of September 10th, 1817, Keats' idiosyncratic spelling has been retained:

Oxford, Septr 10th [1817]

My dear Fanny,

Let us now begin a regular question and answer - a little pro and con; letting it interfere as a pleasant method of my coming at your favorite little wants and enjoyments, that I may meet them in a way befitting a brother.

We have been so little together since you have been able to reflect on things that I know not whether you prefer the History of King Pepin to Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress - or Cinderella and her glass slipper to Moors Almanack. However in a few Letters I hope I shall be able to come at that and adapt my scribblings to your Pleasure. You must tell me about all you read if it be only six Pages in a Week and thus transmitted to me every now and then will procue you full sheets of writing from me pretty frequently - Thus? this I feel is a necessity: for we ought to become intimately aquainted, in order that I not only as you grow up love your as my only Sister, but confide in you as my dearest friend. When I saw you last I told you of my intention of going to Oxford and 'tis now a Week since I dis-embarked from his Whipship's Coach the Defiance in this place. I am living in Magdalen Hall on a visit to a young man with whom I have not been long aquainted, but whom I like very much - we lead very industrious lives. He in general studies and I in preceding at a pretty good rate with a Poem which I hope you will see early in the next year. Perhaps you might like to know what I am writing about - I will tell you.

Many years ago, there was a young, handsome Shepherd who fed his flocks on a Mountains Side called Latmus - he was a very contemplative Sort of a Person and lived solitry among the trees and plains little thinking - that such a beautiful creature as the Moon was growing mad in love with him - However so it was; and when ...


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