A Celtic connection?

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

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A Celtic connection?

Postby keatsclose » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:08 pm

Reading the 'Margate and Canterbury' section of the biography on this website I came across a comment about Keats inheriting a
'Celtic intensity of feeling' from his mother, Frances Jennings. Yet another (groan) example of the old cliche, fashionable,
I suspect, at the time when the biography was written, about Celts being naturally gloomy and passionate. But it set me wondering
whether anything much was known about the origins of Mrs K. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who knows more than that she was
the daughter of John's dad's employer. I've not come across much detail about her origins or early life.
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Re: A Celtic connection?

Postby Malia » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:40 pm

That's an interesting thought, Keatsclose. I don't remember reading much about the Jennings side of the family--Keats's family history is woefully threadbare as regards details, unfortunately. Without checking back, I expect that Frances was born in or around London and I don't remember reading that the Jennings family were recent transplants from some other part of Britain (but, again, I'm only relying on my spotty memory, here). I do remember various authors going to some length to try to gather info about Keats's *father* and his history, as he seems to have come out of nowhere. Gittings seems to think he came out of Cornwall or Land's End. But we really don't know any of that for sure. I expect he left his family to "find his fortune" in London and perhaps cut ties with his relatives (not unheard of in the Keats family, considering the Jennings inheritance rift that left the Keats children without even Aunts and Uncles to call family).

Yes, the story of Frances and where the Jenningses came from is interesting--I will have to do some investigating! :)
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Re: A Celtic connection?

Postby Saturn » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:53 pm

Gittings' biography has an interesting appendix on the origins of the Keats family name and provenance, speculative but interesting nonetheless.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Re: A Celtic connection?

Postby keatsclose » Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:49 pm

Thanks, Malia, Saturn.

I'd forgotten about Keats's father and his West Country origins.
Just checked ancestry.co.uk, where the surname Keats is shown to be distributed mostly on the western side of the British isles, especially Devon.
Originating in the West Midlands, it is derived from/asociated with 'kite', bird of prey, a term used to desribe a rapacious person.

As for Jennings, the name is given as actually derived from the name John.
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Re: A Celtic connection?

Postby Raphael » Fri Dec 18, 2009 2:28 pm

This is a topic close to my heart! I think John indeed had some Celtic blood- he had the colouring ( red hair and pale skin)and yes the passionate nature which feels deeply and has a deep love of the natural world. It's not a total cliche about Celts being passionate, deep feeling and loving the natural world. Some of John's feelings, ideas and philosphies are quite Druidic.

I read that his surname is an old English word of Norse origin "Kete"- I forget what it means- I haven't the book on me( it's at home) that says this but i'll post the meaning next time.

Keats is not a common surname- I've never met anyone with it and only 3 people are listed with this name in my local directory.

The Celtic tribes were driven into pockets of Britain- Cornwall being one of them. of course his height wasn't Celtic- Celts were very tall, so he hadn't got his height from the Celtic blood in him ( but anyway who cares about height? It doesn't stop him being amazing.. :D )- but his soul - yes I really think so ( in fact I'm writing and article on this topic for a Druid magazine I subscribe to).
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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Re: A Celtic connection?

Postby Raphael » Fri Dec 18, 2009 2:46 pm

I just found these links:

http://www.houseofnames.com/xq/asp.fc/q ... -crest.htm

I know it's not directly linked to this topic :

http://www.picturehistory.com/product/id/25703

But I thought the quality of the print the best I've seen- it's almost as though we were seeing a photo of him and the sensitivity in his face is so pronounced here; he looks so magical.

( and yes they got it wrong it's his life mask..)
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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Re: A Celtic connection?

Postby keatsclose » Sun Dec 20, 2009 8:31 pm

Of course, there's always that other - later, and most definitely Celtic and mystical -
poet whose name could be pronounced to rhyme with that of our Mr Keats...
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Re: A Celtic connection?

Postby Raphael » Tue Dec 22, 2009 5:10 pm

keatsclose wrote:Of course, there's always that other - later, and most definitely Celtic and mystical -
poet whose name could be pronounced to rhyme with that of our Mr Keats...



Yes, him too! I have a book of his travels around Ireland describing folks' experiences with the Faery. Very interesting.
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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Re: A Celtic connection?

Postby keatsclose » Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:33 pm

Saturn wrote:Gittings' biography has an interesting appendix on the origins of the Keats family name and provenance, speculative but interesting nonetheless.


Yes, thanks, Saturn. Just read the Gittings biography (and found it moving, especially read in tandem with Junkets on a Sad Planet).
Gittings supplies more detail about Keats's mother's family too, including a connection with Lancashire.
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