200 years ago Keats didn’t spend Christmas with Fanny Brawne

On Saturday 25 December 1819 Keats and Charles Brown spent Christmas Day in Westminster as guests of Mr and Mrs Charles Wentworth Dilke.

Brown and Dilke seem to have spent much of the day writing fairy tales together. It is not clear how Keats amused himself, but this Christmas must have been very different from that of 1818, when he had just moved into Wentworth Place (as Brown’s lodger and the Dilke’s next-door neighbour), and was invited to spend Christmas Day at Elm Cottage by Mrs Brawne (whose daughter Fanny would later write that it was ‘the happiest day I had ever then spent’).

In April 1819, the Brawnes moved in to what had been the Dilkes’ side of Wentworth Place — but it seems that Keats was not invited to spend Christmas Day with them. Was the relationship between him and Miss Brawne too stormy? Was arranging to spend the day 3½ miles away one of Brown’s attempts to wean Keats from his infatuation?

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