According to your biogs - when does Keats leave medicine?

The life of John Keats the man: his family, his friends, and his contemporaries.

Moderators: Saturn, Malia

According to your biogs - when does Keats leave medicine?

Postby Spanglej » Sat Jun 26, 2010 8:29 am

As far as I can see Bate, Gittings and Motion all point to different points as to when Keats actually left the medical professional / his medical training.It seems like a slow slide out. There is a mix of evidence - key exams he decided not to sit, heated declarations of intention, the December 1817 meeting with Abbey to announce his change of profession. None seem definitive.

Your insight would be useful. Who have you read on the matter and what do they say?

Thanks

SpangleJ
Spanglej
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:34 am

Re: According to your biogs - when does Keats leave medicine

Postby Cybele » Sat Jun 26, 2010 6:08 pm

Gittings seems to say that Keats remained at Guys through most of the Spring of 1817. ("John Keats," Gittings, 1968 paperback edition)

Keats signed on as a dresser to Billy Lucas March 3, 1816 for a year. (p. 64)

On February 7, roomie, Henry Stephens passed his exam to be admitted as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons. Keats did not take the exam -- at least not at the same time. (p. 113)

He was still living at his Cheapside lodgings on May 1, 1817 (p. 121) I have assumed that this meant he was still associated in some way with the hospital, as I understood that Keats (and I think his brothers, too) was/were living there because of the lodgings' proximity to Guy's.

If I'm misinterpreting things, someone please set me straight. I'm curious about this, too.
Last edited by Cybele on Sun Jun 27, 2010 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"The philosopher proves that the philosopher exists. The poet merely enjoys existence."
Wallace Stevens
User avatar
Cybele
Calidore
 
Posts: 377
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:19 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: According to your biogs - when does Keats leave medicine

Postby Raphael » Sun Jun 27, 2010 4:05 am

From Grant Scott's edition of the letters. In the chronology he has:

1815- John enters Guy's as a student.

1816- 3 March, is a dresser to the surgeons.
-25 July, passes his exam at Apothecaries' Hall, becomes eligible to practise as apothecary, surgeon, physician.
-October - he meets Leigh Hunt and his circle.
-1 December He had his Chapman's Homer published In The Examiner.It seems likely that this was the catylist for his decision to give up his medical career in this month.

He was still living at his Cheapside lodgings on May 1, 1817 (p. 121) I have assumed that this meant he was still associated in some way with the hospital, as I understood that Keats (and I think his brothers, too) was living there because of the lodgings' proximity to Guy's.


His letters from April- August 1817 show him to be on his Endymion writing retreat at the Isle of Wight, Margate, Canterbury, Hastings and Hampstead. He was well finished with Guy's at that point.

Guy Murchie's bio says that:

"An entry made in the books of Guy's hospital listed John as a dresser to serve twelve months from March 1816. If that is correct, he probably bothered his head very little with thoughts of medicine after joining the Hunt circle in November 1816." (p58)

He then says that in ref to the letter Stephens wrote to Mathew "it is evident that John still continued in some fashion to go to the hospital. At any rate they (he means Stephens) were seeing each other frequently. Their friendly companionship included swimming in the Middlesex New River, visits in the country and meeting at Cheapside."

Stephens commented in his letter how John was more interested in poetry than medicine. this letter is given in full on page 36 of Murchie's book.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
User avatar
Raphael
Milton
 
Posts: 1845
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:10 pm
Location: wandering Keats' poetry

Re: According to your biogs - when does Keats leave medicine

Postby Cybele » Sun Jun 27, 2010 5:10 pm

Raphael wrote:From Grant Scott's edition of the letters. In the chronology he has:

1815- John enters Guy's as a student.

1816- 3 March, is a dresser to the surgeons.
-25 July, passes his exam at Apothecaries' Hall, becomes eligible to practise as apothecary, surgeon, physician.
-October - he meets Leigh Hunt and his circle.
-1 December He had his Chapman's Homer published In The Examiner.It seems likely that this was the catylist for his decision to give up his medical career in this month.

He was still living at his Cheapside lodgings on May 1, 1817 (p. 121) I have assumed that this meant he was still associated in some way with the hospital, as I understood that Keats (and I think his brothers, too) was living there because of the lodgings' proximity to Guy's.


His letters from April- August 1817 show him to be on his Endymion writing retreat at the Isle of Wight, Margate, Canterbury, Hastings and Hampstead. He was well finished with Guy's at that point.

Guy Murchie's bio says that:

"An entry made in the books of Guy's hospital listed John as a dresser to serve twelve months from March 1816. If that is correct, he probably bothered his head very little with thoughts of medicine after joining the Hunt circle in November 1816." (p58)

He then says that in ref to the letter Stephens wrote to Mathew "it is evident that John still continued in some fashion to go to the hospital. At any rate they (he means Stephens) were seeing each other frequently. Their friendly companionship included swimming in the Middlesex New River, visits in the country and meeting at Cheapside."

Stephens commented in his letter how John was more interested in poetry than medicine. this letter is given in full on page 36 of Murchie's book.



I looked up that Stephens letter in Murchie. While I agree that John was seriously considering abandoning medicine in favor of poetry, I don’t think he made an actual break until later. Even tho’ elsewhere Stephens recalled that Keats had made a remark that he wasn’t sure he could “keep up the strain of” surgery,

Murchie says that John & Tom went to Margate the summer of 1816 – but that was for a bit of a vacation, for Tom’s health (getting him out of the stifling confines of London) (pg. 42)

Walter Jackson Bate (“John Keats”) reports that as late as March, 1817, Keats was still associated with Guy’s. Benjamin Robert Haydon recorded in his diary that [Keats] “has gone to dress wounds, after spending an evening with me spouting Shakespeare.” (pg. 110) As imperfect as Haydon’s later recollections might be, I would argue that such a diary entry is pretty reliable evidence.

Aileen Ward says much the same thing in “John Keats, the Making of a Poet.” She says that this holiday was a break between terms and an opportunity, albeit an ultimately futile one, to improve Tom’s health. (p.65)

She also says that Keats remained at Guy’s throughout the winter of 1816-7, and supports this with Haydon’s diary and Stephens’s letter in “Keats Circle: Letters and Papers.” (Darn! I’m still looking for a copy of volume I of “Letters.” I think I’m going to cave in and photocopy the university library’s copy.)

Andrew Motion’s biography says that the visit to Margate was for Tom’s health (pg. 98-9). Motion also goes on to say that Keats registered for more lectures in surgery (pg. 105), altho’ he doesn’t cite where he got that information.

I’ve interpreted this break from London as a sort of treading water while our guy was deciding which way, figuratively speaking, to swim.

He may have actually made the decision to leave medicine earlier, but I believe he completed his obligations at the hospital and didn’t actually break the ties with Guy’s until March or early (at the absolute latest) April, 1817.

Also, his April, 1817 letters to his brothers & Haydon, and a May, 1817 letter to Hunt seem to me lighter in mood than those written earlier. It's as though a weight had been lifted from his shoulders and that he was looking forward to the next chapter in his life, full of hope and aware of his own great potential.
"The philosopher proves that the philosopher exists. The poet merely enjoys existence."
Wallace Stevens
User avatar
Cybele
Calidore
 
Posts: 377
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:19 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: According to your biogs - when does Keats leave medicine

Postby Raphael » Sun Jun 27, 2010 5:45 pm

Cybele- thanks for this interesting information!



I looked up that Stephens letter in Murchie.


Oh you have this book too! How long have you had it? It's my total favourite biography.


While I agree that John was seriously considering abandoning medicine in favor of poetry, I don’t think he made an actual break until later. Even tho’ elsewhere Stephens recalled that Keats had made a remark that he wasn’t sure he could “keep up the strain of” surgery, Murchie says that John & Tom went to Margate the summer of 1816 – but that was for a bit of a vacation, for Tom’s health (getting him out of the stifling confines of London) (pg. 42)



I wonder when it was he went to Mr Abbey? Has anyone seen the letter of J H Reynolds who gave the account?(I have seen the excerpt) Did he say when it was?


Walter Jackson Bate (“John Keats”) reports that as late as March, 1817, Keats was still associated with Guy’s. Benjamin Robert Haydon recorded in his diary that [Keats] “has gone to dress wounds, after spending an evening with me spouting Shakespeare.” (pg. 110) As imperfect as Haydon’s later recollections might be, I would argue that such a diary entry is pretty reliable evidence.


Yet in April 1817 to J H Reynolds he wrote:

"I find that I cannot exist without poetry, without eternal poetry; half the day will not do, the whole of it." So this would have been incompatible with spending the whole day at Guy's, every day. As today, with newly qualified professionals, it would seem that he would go for post qualification experience - perhaps a couple of hours in the afternoon to work with his tutors and help out with the dressings and operations etc.



Aileen Ward says much the same thing in “John Keats, the Making of a Poet.” She says that this holiday was a break between terms and an opportunity, albeit an ultimately futile one, to improve Tom’s health. (p.65)

She also says that Keats remained at Guy’s throughout the winter of 1816-7, and supports this with Haydon’s diary and Stephens’s letter in “Keats Circle: Letters and Papers.” (Darn! I’m still looking for a copy of volume I of “Letters.” I think I’m going to cave in and photocopy the university library’s copy.)



Well, this must have been the interim stage between newly qualifying, the students having a summer break and expected to return to arrange work at the hospital. Whilst it was a holiday for Tom's health, it gave John the chance to do some sustained writing and make a serious decision.


Andrew Motion’s biography says that the visit to Margate was for Tom’s health (pg. 98-9). Motion also goes on to say that Keats registered for more lectures in surgery (pg. 105), altho’ he doesn’t cite where he got that information.



Motion should have given his reference!


I’ve interpreted this break from London as a sort of treading water while our guy was deciding which way, figuratively speaking, to swim. He may have actually made the decision to leave medicine earlier, but I believe he completed his obligations at the hospital and didn’t actually break the ties with Guy’s until March or early (at the absolute latest) April, 1817.



Yes- I agree. I think having left by April makes sense, given what he wrote to J H Reynolds, about needing poetry for the whole day.


Also, his April, 1817 letters to his brothers & Haydon, and a May, 1817 letter to Hunt seem to me lighter in mood than those written earlier. It's as though a weight had been lifted from his shoulders and that he was looking forward to the next chapter in his life, full of hope and aware of his own great potential.


Yes and the 10 May letter to Hunt he is describing himself as a poet.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
User avatar
Raphael
Milton
 
Posts: 1845
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:10 pm
Location: wandering Keats' poetry

Re: According to your biogs - when does Keats leave medicine

Postby Cybele » Sun Jun 27, 2010 6:27 pm

Oh my gosh -- I think I've had that Murchie book for twenty years. There used to be a wonderful used bookstore across the street from the university campus. The proprietor was always more than happy to be an "enabler" of my Keats addiction.

RE: the April, 1817 letter to Reynolds --
Keats was obviously smitten with poetry, but lots of docs have done both medicine and poetry. I remember hearing that Anton Chekov once said something to the effect that "Medicine is my wife, literature is my mistress."

Motion seems to have intended his biography for the general reader -- someone who is often put-off by excessive bookmarks! (I actually know people who will not read a book containing footnotes or end-notes.)
I know you feel differently, but I really enjoyed this look at JK's life.
"The philosopher proves that the philosopher exists. The poet merely enjoys existence."
Wallace Stevens
User avatar
Cybele
Calidore
 
Posts: 377
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:19 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: According to your biogs - when does Keats leave medicine

Postby Raphael » Sun Jun 27, 2010 6:42 pm

Oh my gosh -- I think I've had that Murchie book for twenty years. There used to be a wonderful used bookstore across the street from the university campus. The proprietor was always more than happy to be an "enabler" of my Keats addiction.


It is a great addition to a Keatsian library. :D I like his approach, respect for our poet and his honest research.



RE: the April, 1817 letter to Reynolds --
Keats was obviously smitten with poetry, but lots of docs have done both medicine and poetry. I remember hearing that Anton Chekov once said something to the effect that "Medicine is my wife, literature is my mistress."



Did Chekov continue to practise medicine whilst writing?


Motion seems to have intended his biography for the general reader -- someone who is often put-off by excessive bookmarks! (I actually know people who will not read a book containing footnotes or end-notes.)



Well, I don't think it is good research practise to make quotes and state facts without citing a reference. I would have got shot at university for that! Motion only had to cite his refs at the end of the book- a references section for each chapter- then those who wish to know his sources would be able to find them.


I know you feel differently, but I really enjoyed this look at JK's life.



No, I didn't like his book at all. I found it tedious reading- the style is very dry and unengaging and he makes far too many suppositions without any evidence. I fully expected to like it, but I didn't. He is much better as a speaker- seen him on you tube.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
User avatar
Raphael
Milton
 
Posts: 1845
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:10 pm
Location: wandering Keats' poetry

Re: According to your biogs - when does Keats leave medicine

Postby Cybele » Sun Jun 27, 2010 9:39 pm

Raphael wrote:Did Chekov continue to practise medicine whilst writing?


Yes. He certainly did. In fact, he was quite a humanitarian.

I've seen several of his plays, read a few short stories and liked what I saw/read. I've never really gotten into him, tho'. I have this feeling that I missing all kinds of subtle things that have "been lost in translation," as they say.

The Wikipedia article is interesting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Chekhov
"The philosopher proves that the philosopher exists. The poet merely enjoys existence."
Wallace Stevens
User avatar
Cybele
Calidore
 
Posts: 377
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 1:19 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: According to your biogs - when does Keats leave medicine

Postby Raphael » Sun Jun 27, 2010 9:46 pm

Cybele wrote:
Raphael wrote:Did Chekov continue to practise medicine whilst writing?


Yes. He certainly did. In fact, he was quite a humanitarian.

I've seen several of his plays, read a few short stories and liked what I saw/read. I've never really gotten into him, tho'. I have this feeling that I missing all kinds of subtle things that have "been lost in translation," as they say.

The Wikipedia article is interesting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Chekhov


I saved this to my favourites to read later- in the middle of watching The Outer Limits.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
User avatar
Raphael
Milton
 
Posts: 1845
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:10 pm
Location: wandering Keats' poetry

Re: According to your biogs - when does Keats leave medicine

Postby Spanglej » Mon Jun 28, 2010 7:11 pm

Thanks for all your insight on this question. I imagine it's fair to say, then, that it's unclear when he made a final break - that he gradually lessened his involvement with the medical world. Would you agree?
Spanglej
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:34 am

Re: According to your biogs - when does Keats leave medicine

Postby Raphael » Mon Jun 28, 2010 10:53 pm

Spanglej wrote:Thanks for all your insight on this question. I imagine it's fair to say, then, that it's unclear when he made a final break - that he gradually lessened his involvement with the medical world. Would you agree?


I would say yes- but his friend J H Reynolds must have known the exact time as he wrote when John went to Mr Abbey to tell him he was done with Guy's. I don't know if the date is in this letter.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
User avatar
Raphael
Milton
 
Posts: 1845
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:10 pm
Location: wandering Keats' poetry


Return to Life and Letters

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests