English lyric poet, the archetype of the Romantic writer. While still in good health, Keats was ambitious of doing the world some good, instead of focusing on his own sensitive soul. Keats felt that the deepest meaning of life lay in the apprehension of material beauty, although his mature poems reveal his fascination with a world of death and decay. Most of his best work appeared in one year. Darkling I listen; and for many a time I have been half in love with easeful Death (from 'Ode To a Nightingale') John Keats was born in London as the son of a successful livery-stable manager. He was the oldest of four children, who remained deeply devoted to each other. Thomas, his father, was the chief hostler at the Swan and Hoop. After their father died in 1804 in a riding accident, Keats's mother, Frances Jennings Keats, remarried but the marriage was soon broken. She moved with the children, John and his sister Fanny and brothers George and Tom, to live with her mother at Edmonton, near London. She died of tuberculosis in 1810. At school Keats read widely. He was educated at the progressive Clarke's School in Enfield, where he began a translation of the Aeneid. Keats, who was barely five feet tall, was not know at school for his enthusiasm for books, but his fighting. "My mind has been the most discontented and restless one that ever was put into a body too small for it," he wrote. 1811 Keats was apprenticed to a surgeon-apothecary. While studying for the licence, he completed his translation of Aeneid. Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene impressed him deeply and his first poem, written in 1814, was 'Lines in Imitation of Spenser.' In that year he moved to London and resumed his surgical studies in 1815 as a student at Guy's hospital. Next year he became a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries and was allowed to practice surgery. Before devoting himself entirely to poetry, Keats worked as a dresser and junior house surgeon. In London he had met Leigh Hunt, the editor of the leading liberal magazine of the day, The Examiner. He introduced Keats to other young Romantics, including Shelley, and published in the magazine Keats's sonnet, 'O Solitude'. Keats's first book, Poems, was published in 1817. Sales were poor. He spent the spring with his brother Tom and friends at Shankin. It was about this time Keats started to use his letters as the vehicle of his thoughts of poetry. They mixed the everyday events of his own life with comments with his correspondence. Among others T.S. Eliot considered the letters in The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (1933) "certainly the most notable and most important ever written by any English poet," but also said about Keats's famous Hyperion: "it contains great lines, but I do not know whether it is a great poem." The first of his famous letters Keats wrote to Benjamin Bailey on November 22, 1817. "You perhaps at one time thought there was such thing as Worldly Happiness to be arrived at, at certain periods of time marked out - you have necessity from your disposition been thus led away - I scarcely remember counting upon any Happiness". Endymion, Keats's first long poem appeared, when he was 21. It told in 4000 lines of the love of the moon goddess Cynthia for the young shepherd Endymion. It was attacked among others by John Wilson Croker and John Gibson Lochard, who wrote in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine: '... it has just as much to do with Greece as it has with "old Tartary the fierce;" no man, whose mind has ever been imbued with the smallest knowledge or feeling of classical poetry or classical history, could have stooped to profane and vulgarize every association in the manner which has been adopted by this "son of promise."' Although the critical reaction was lukewarm, Keats was not discouraged by it, but wrote to Richard Woodhouse: "I am ambitious of doing the world some good: if I should be spared that may be the work of mature years - in the interval I will assay to reach to as high a summit in Poetry as the nerve bestowed upon me will suffer." Keats's greatest works were written in the late 1810s, among them Lamia, The Eve of St. Agnes, the great odes and two versions of Hyperion. He worked briefly as a theatrical critic for The Champion, spent summer of 1818 touring the Lakes, Scotland and Northern Ireland. During his journey, which he made with his friend Charles Brown, a businessman, he vowed: "I shall learn poetry here and shall henceforth write more than ever." After returning to London he spent the next three months attending his brother Tom, who was seriously ill with tuberculosis.