Christmas Eve 200 years ago (Wednesday 24 December 1817)

Keats’s brothers George and Tom were away in Teignmouth, so Mr and Mrs George Reynolds invited him to spend Christmas Eve with them at 19 Lambs Conduit Street. Keats spent the evening with them and his good friends Jane, Mariane, Eliza, Charlotte, the fellow-poet John Hamilton Reynolds — and their cat (to whom Keats would dedicate a sonnet the following month).

The family’s generous hospitality must have added to the slight they felt the following year when Keats had accepted their invitation for Christmas Day, but then turned them down after receiving a more enticing offer from Mrs Brawne to spend the day with her — and her daughter (Fanny Brawne).

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