News – UK – The Great British Art Tour: Why is Keats in Guy’s Hospital?


With closed public art collections, we’re bringing the art to you, working with Art UK to explore highlights and hidden gems from around the country Today’s pick: Stuart Williamson’s Keats statue in London

The romantic poet John Keats died 200 years ago today at the young age of 25. He has long been celebrated for works such as Ode to a Nightingale and to Autumn. Perhaps less known are the years he spent as an aspiring doctor before he became a doctor gave up medicine to study poetry

This statue of Keats is in an alcove in front of Guy’s hospital because he worked and studied there. He was only 14 years old (as it was in the early 19th century) It was common in the 19th century) when he was first trained at a suburban pharmacy equivalent to a general practitioner who later moved in with Guy for further training with legendary surgeon Astley Cooper

It was once believed that Keats was a dreamer who was not interested in his medical degree. On the contrary, recent research by scientists has shown how successful and focused he was in Guy’s passing an exam that many of the students had failed and was appointed to the coveted position of “dresser” This not only included the support of experienced surgeons during operations, but also the use of A&E in a week with four people around the clock

The operation at that time was brutal.There was no anesthesia other than alcohol and opium.The chests of drawers were used to hold patients during operations and dispose of amputated limbs. Keats was highly sensitive and empathetic to the pain of others, but the record shows that he was also able to calm the professionalism of Guy in March 1816, for example, he saved the life of a woman named Jane Hull who was brought in with a gunshot wound to the head and neck and was brought in by her jealous husband at the Prince Regent’s bar Pubs was shot dead, 20-year-old Keats successfully extracted the pistol ball, which he presented as evidence during the resulting legal process

Images from the human body abound in Keats’ poems. When he used the metaphor of a “naked brain” he knew what he was talking about; he had actually seen one in the anatomy room. He also knew the limits of 19th century medicine Century accurate, and witnessed the harrowing deaths of his mother and brother from tuberculosis. The same disease later killed Keats himself in Rome, where he had left in the futile hope that the Mediterranean climate would ease his symptoms. Keats’ poetry is often considered the ultimate expression Considered the romantic imagination but far from depicting escapist fantasy, it recognizes “the fever and anger” of human suffering without denying it or giving simple answers

• Lucasta Miller’s Keats: A Brief Life in Nine Poems and an Epitaph is published by Penguin

• This series is brought to you in partnership with Art UK, which brings the country’s art together on a digital platform and tells the stories behind the art.The website features works by 50000 artists from more than 3000 venues including museums, universities and hospitals, and thousands of public sculptures. Discover the art you own here

John Keats, Ode to a Nightingale

News – GB – The Great British Art Tour: Why is Keats in Guys Hospital?