200 years ago, Keats met a future killer

On Friday 21 November 1817, Keats called on fellow-poet John Hamilton Reynolds where he met Jonathan Christie (the London agent for Blackwood’s Edinburgh Review). ‘I should have been here a day sooner but the Reynoldses persuaded me to stop in Town to meet your friend Christie.’*

The letter gives no hint of the trouble which Blackwood’s and Christie would cause to Keats and his circle.  The following summer, Blackwood’s would publish a scathing review of Endymion (the ‘poetic romance’ which Keats was about to complete on 28 November 1817).

John Scott, the editor of a rival publication The London Magazine would publish articles defending Keats and other writers. Insults flew, and in 1821 Scott challenged Christie to pistols at dawn on 16 February 1821. Christie’s shot wounded John Scott, who died 11 days later.

* Letter to Benjamin Bailey 22 November 1817.

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