John Keats ( /ˈkiːts/; 31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821) was an English Romantic poet. Along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, he was one of the key figures in the second generation of the Romantic movement, despite the fact that his work had been in publication for only four years before his death. During his life, his poems were not generally well received by critics; however, after his death, his reputation grew to the extent that by the end of the 19th century he had become one of the most beloved of all English poets. He has had a significant influence on a diverse range of later poets and writers: Jorge Luis Borges, for instance, stated that his first encounter with Keats was the most significant literary experience of his life.
The poetry of Keats is characterized by sensual imagery, most notably in the series of odes. Today his poems and letters are some of the most popular and analyzed in English literature.
John Keats was born on 31 October 1795 to Thomas and Frances Jennings Keats. He was the eldest of their four surviving children, George (1797–1841), Thomas (1799–1818), and Frances Mary "Fanny" (1803–89). A son was also lost in infancy. John was born in central London, although there is no clear evidence of the exact location. His father at first worked as a hostler at the stables attached to the Swan and Hoop inn, an establishment Thomas later managed and where the growing family would live for some years. The Keats at the Globe pub now occupies the site, a few yards from modern day Moorgate station. Keats was baptised at St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate and sent to a local dame school as an infant. In the summer of 1803, unable to attend Eton or Harrow due to the expense, he was sent to board at John Clarke's school in Enfield, close to his grandparents' house. The small school had a liberal and progressive outlook, with a curriculum ahead of its time, a place altogether more modern than the larger, more prestigious schools. In the family atmosphere at Clarke's, Keats developed an interest in classics and history which would stay with him throughout his short life. The headmaster's son, Charles Cowden Clarke, would become an important influence, mentor and friend, introducing Keats to Renaissance literature including Tasso, Spenser and Chapman's translations. The instability of Keats's childhood gave rise to a volatile character "always in extremes", given to indolence and fighting. However at 13 he began focusing his energy towards reading and study, winning his first academic prize in midsummer 1809.