John Keats

Above the statue to Shakespeare in Poets' Corner is a small oval mural tablet with a lyre to John Keats. This is joined with a carved swag of flowers to an identical tablet for Percy Shelley. Both are by the sculptor Frank Dobson and were unveiled on 10th June 1954 by John Masefield, Poet Laureate. A memorial had first been proposed for Keats in 1939 but a decision was deferred due to the war.

The gilded inscription reads simply:

KEATS 1795-1821

Keats was born in London, one of five children of Thomas and Frances. His father died in 1804 while he was still at school and he did not get on with his new stepfather. He was apprenticed to an apothecary-surgeon and started writing around 1814. He later abandoned the medical profession to write poetry and his first collection of poems was published in 1817. Among his best-known poems are his odes 'To a Nightingale' and 'On a Grecian urn'. His collection of letters was not published till after his death. He became engaged to Fanny Brawne but was advised to go to Italy for his health in 1820. He died of tuberculosis in Rome on 23rd February 1821 and was buried in the Protestant cemetery there. Keats' reputation continued to rise in the Victorian period and he is considered to be one of the greatest English poets.

Keats House in Hampstead is now a Museum.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


31st October 1795


23rd February 1821


9th June 1954




South Transept; Poets' Corner

Memorial Type


John Keats
John Keats by William Hilton, after Joseph Severn

© National Portrait Gallery, London [Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0]

John Keats
John Keats and Percy Shelley memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster