Keats had last written to Benjamin Bailey in July 1818 (he had stayed with him for some of the time that he wrote ‘Endymion’). But on Saturday 14 August 1819 he felt the need to bring him up to date with his writing:
“Within these two months I have written 1500 lines, most of which, besides many more of prior composition, you will probably see by next winter.
I have written 2 tales, one from Boccaccio called the Pot of Basil; and another called St. Agnes’s Eve, on a popular superstition, and a 3rd called Lamia (half finished). I have also been writing parts of my “Hyperion,” and completed 4 acts of a tragedy. It was the opinion of most of my friends that I should never be able to write a scene. I will endeavour to wipe away the prejudice—I sincerely hope you will be pleased when my labours, since we last saw each other, shall reach you.
“One of my Ambitions is to make as great a revolution in modern dramatic writing as Kean has done in acting. Another, to upset the drawling of the blue-stocking literary world—if in the Course of a few years I do these two things, I ought to die content, and my friends should drink a dozen of claret on my tomb. I am convinced more and more every day that (excepting the human friend philosopher) a fine writer is the most genuine being in the world. Shakespeare and the Paradise lost every day become greater wonders to me. I look on fine phrases like a lover.”