John & George Keats | November 15, 2012

Crutcher, Lawrence M. George Keats of Kentucky: A Life. Univ. of Kentucky. (Topics in Kentucky History). Nov. 2012. c.384p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780813136882. $40. LIT
George Keats, younger brother of the poet, spent most of his adult life as a businessman and community leader in the burgeoning frontier town of Louisville, KY. Crutcher (The Keats Family), a direct descendent of George Keats and a Keats family genealogist, seeks to redeem the reputation of his ancestor from the claims of multiple biographers of John Keats who have alleged that George abandoned his ailing brother at a time of great need, in the process taking more than his share of a family inheritance. To support his claims, Crutcher focuses on the legal complications in the Keats family inheritance, and on George Keats’s role in preserving and promoting the legacy of his poet brother. Denise Gigante’s The Keats Brothers (2011) is more effective in addressing the relationship between George and John as well as George’s early life and emigration. Crutcher goes further, however, in covering George Keats’s tumultuous business career, providing in the process an engaging look at Louisville in the 1830s. VERDICT Recommended for readers interested either in the history of Louisville, or for ardent admirers of John Keats. An interesting complement to Nicolas Roe’s new biography of the poet (reviewed below).—Nicholas Graham, North Carolina Digital Heritage Ctr., Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

”LibraryRoe, Nicholas. John Keats: A New Life. Yale Univ. Nov. 2012. c.384p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300124651. $32.50. LIT
Roe (English, Univ. of St. Andrews; Fiery Heart: The First Life of Leigh Hunt) presents a new Keats biography to join the 1963 classic by Walter Jackson Bate, John Keats, and the more recent biography, Keats, by Andrew Motion. While many biographies of the great English Romantic poet create separation between his life and his poetry, Roe shows them to be integral parts of a whole. By applying extensive new archival research to show the connections between Keats’s ambitions, frustrations, and his poetry, Roe presents a more passionate and even rowdy Keats. The strength of this biography is the close attention paid to the details of Keats’s life which help us to read and interpret his poetry. We are a long way from the image of Yeats’s schoolboy, face pressed against the windowpane of life. VERDICT Eminently readable, and thorough without being verbose, Roe’s book may legitimately claim to be the new definitive biography of Keats.—T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ. Lib., Savannah, GA