Biography by Albert Elmer Hancock

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Biography by Albert Elmer Hancock

Postby Fortuna » Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:28 am

I was just wondering if anyone of you well-read forumers are familiar Keats' biography by Albert Elmer Hancock? It is el cheapo at The Book Depository and I would be interested to get into another one of his biographies to whittle away the long summer that's about to begin. Do let me know if you would recommend it!
"Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath"
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Re: Biography by Albert Elmer Hancock

Postby Raphael » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:48 pm

I haven't seen this one before- let me know what it's like? What others have you got/read?
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.

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Re: Biography by Albert Elmer Hancock

Postby BrokenLyre » Thu Nov 12, 2009 1:00 am

Fortuna, I have never seen or read the biography by Hancock. I have seen many others, but this one I don't know. Sorry - wish I could be helpful.
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Re: Biography by Albert Elmer Hancock

Postby Sid13 » Fri Nov 13, 2009 12:28 am

I never heard of this biography either. I looked it up, and found that it is in fact one of the earliest biographies of Keats, first published in 1908. It's in the public domain, and the text has been digitized, and you can read it for free at Google books.

It doesn't look very promising to me. The prose is rather Victorian:

"How could the incarnate soul of Beauty descend from a hostler and a liveryman's daughter in a London stable? There was no strange star in the east. Surely it was one of Nature's feats of legerdemain to compound a being so exquisitively fine amid foul air, stale straw, the reek of oil, leather, animal heat, the needs and easements of dumb beasts, while menials washed coach wheels and jested in Billingsgate."

Also, like the Victorians, he didn't seem to like Fanny much: "The love for Fanny Brawne was one of the malign forces of fate," and so on.
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Re: Biography by Albert Elmer Hancock

Postby Malia » Fri Nov 13, 2009 1:04 am

Wow, Sid13, that excerpt really speaks of class divisions, doesn't it? One's descent really seemed to "say a lot" about a person. I can imagine some of the class-related trouble Keats had to go through. Weren't most poets landed gentry with time to kill? :wink: :roll:

I'd read once (in the Bate biography?) that Hunt noticed how, when Keats was in the presence of people like Shelley (people who were "above" him in class), Keats tended to keep quiet. Hunt assumed it was because Keats had a lower-middle class "Londoner" accent and he was ashamed of it.

Now, I have a feeling that Keats was not ashamed of his accent or of himself and his class, per se. That was a friend's interpretation of Keats's relative silence in particular company. But I'm sure certain socially accepted views about accents and decent didn't escape his notice.
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Re: Biography by Albert Elmer Hancock

Postby Fortuna » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:34 am

Thank you so much for your additional research, Sid13.

I suppose I could forgo that biography, although what you brought up, Malia, is fascinating. It also came across in Motion's biography that maybe Keats disagreed with Shelley's 'libertine' lifestyle and did not really want to associate with someone of his character. One of his letters to Fanny declared that he hated society, has no desire to be part of the ones that she tries so hard to manoeuvre into, and in another that if he could not live with her, he would rather live alone. I can certainly understand that if someone who so easily tired of society as Keats was, that he would not feel very motivated to join in lively discussions with people like Shelley that he wasn't particularly close to.
"Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath"
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Re: Biography by Albert Elmer Hancock

Postby Raphael » Fri Nov 13, 2009 3:26 pm

Fortuna wrote:Thank you so much for your additional research, Sid13.

I suppose I could forgo that biography, although what you brought up, Malia, is fascinating. It also came across in Motion's biography that maybe Keats disagreed with Shelley's 'libertine' lifestyle and did not really want to associate with someone of his character. One of his letters to Fanny declared that he hated society, has no desire to be part of the ones that she tries so hard to manoeuvre into, and in another that if he could not live with her, he would rather live alone. I can certainly understand that if someone who so easily tired of society as Keats was, that he would not feel very motivated to join in lively discussions with people like Shelley that he wasn't particularly close to.


John hated inane talk and falseness- he was a truly genuine honest person and that is what is so endearing about him.
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.
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