Sue Brown is an independent scholar based in London and Malta, and is the author of Joseph Severn, A Life: The Rewards of Friendship. Joseph Severn (1793-1879) was the best known but most controversial of poet John Keats’s friends. In this post on the Oxford University Press blog, Sue Brown reflects on her recent party at Keats House, and wonders what is was about the poet that brought out the best in people:
It absolutely bucketed down in London last Tuesday evening and never stopped all evening. Tube stations were closed, railways disrupted, the traffic ground to a halt and I and a friend struggled to get the drink and glasses up to Keats House for the party I was giving to celebrate the publication of my new biography of Joseph Severn.
Gloomily, I wondered whether anyone would come. Mick Scott, the manager at Keats House, did a wonderful job carrying heavy cartons of wine and champagne into the House and getting soaked to the skin. Downstairs in the kitchen, where Charles Brown must often have visited Abigail O’Donaghue eyeing her up as she laboured, my caterers were already busy turning out delicious canapés.
And as we opened a few bottles, we saw through the windows odd figures crouched under umbrellas, or, bareheaded, braving their way through the garden to knock on the front door. On this most inhospitable of evenings, Keats House was the most hospitable of places. A few turned back or got lost in the downpour: but eighty persisted...