Keats Cottage, Shanklin, Isle of Wight

John Keats stayed at Keats Cottage (known at the time as Eglantine Cottage) in July and August 1819, with his friends James Rice and Charles Armitage Brown.

The Keats Connection

Charles Brown took a summer holiday each year, and sub-let his part of Wentworth Place (now Keats House) in Hampstead. Hence, his lodger Keats must find alternative accommodation for the period, despite being low on funds. During the summer of 1819, Keats agreed to join his friend James Rice in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight. Charles Brown joined the pair later.

It has to be said that Keats wasn't overly happy while at Eglantine Cottage, but he did get a lot of writing done, which is no bad thing. He wrote a substantial portion of the play Otho the Great, the story of which Charles Brown (as co-author) was sketching out for him. Keats also started writing one of his most well-known narrative poems, 'Lamia'.

A great part of Keats' unhappiness was caused by his love for Fanny Brawne, whom he longed for desperately - but whom he could not afford to marry. He was considering alternative careers at this time, that might pay better than poetry, but such compromises were not to be, especially as his health was already worsening. His poetic vocation, his love for Fanny, his poor health, and his perennial need for enough money to live on (let alone marry on) were conflicting burdens that tore him every which way.

Then, as now, the old village in Shanklin and its Chine were a great tourist spot, and so the summer crowds did not help Keats' mood nor his ability to concentrate on writing.

A happier association with Eglantine Cottage is that Charles Brown drew my favourite image of Keats while staying there, in July 1819. (Follow the link to see a copy downloaded from the National Portrait Gallery under their Creative Commons licence.)

In Between

The artist George Morland also stayed at Eglantine Cottage, in 1789. His Coast Scene with Smugglers (1790), for example, shows a view of Shanklin beach. (Links: George Morland page on Wikipedia; Coast Scene with Smugglers page at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.)

Other visitors to the Cottage apparently included the playwright Thomas Morton. (Link: Thomas Morton page on Wikipedia.)

I don't have much information about Eglantine Cottage over the years, but it was open to the public as 'Keats Cottage Hotel' before the current owners, David and Ewa, took over. It has since been refurbished, with respect for yesterday's visitors and consideration for today's.


Mr B and I have stayed at Keats Cottage twice now, and we have really loved it. David and Ewa are very obliging and friendly hosts, and Ewa's cooking makes breakfast and dinner at the restaurant a real treat.

The Keats room at Keats Cottage - a little more luxurious these days than he would have known it!

NB: The rooms are all up various flights of stairs, so people with mobility restrictions may need to plan accordingly. Part of the restaurant is at street level, however, so that is probably doable for all.

NB: There is no on-site parking, but there is a council car park just down the road, and the island-wide rate for a number of days' parking is quite reasonable.

We have stayed in the Byron, Keats, and Shelley rooms on the first floor - and while I must say the Shelley room has the edge in terms of a superbly large bathroom, it is a real thrill to stay in the Keats room, which is where he stayed in 1819, complete with a view up to the Shanklin Theatre. I stayed on my own for two nights in that room, and wrote some of my novel The 'True Love' Solution there. What Keats would make of that, other than politely offering general encouragement, I have no idea!

David and Ewa host regular events at the restaurant, with focuses on various cuisines (Polish, Italian) or particular types of food or drink (wine, crab, vegetables).

One of Ewa's delicious entrees in the restaurant at Keats Cottage.

I really can highly recommend the experience to all Keatsians!


  • Address: Keats Cottage, 76 High Street, Shanklin, Isle of Wight, PO37 6NJ
  • Train: Shanklin on the Island Line
  • Opening hours: The B&B is open throughout most of the year, but do check availability before you make travel plans. The restaurant is open five nights a week during the busy season, but fewer nights per week over winter.



  • The top of Shanklin Chine can be found in the old village, just below where High Street becomes Church Road. It leads down quite steeply to Shanklin beach. Keats called the Chine 'wondrous'. (Links: Shanklin Chine page on Wikipedia.)
  • Keats and his friends apparently had an outing to sketch St Blasius Church one day, before returning to Eglantine Cottage where Brown sketched Keats in the portrait I've linked to above. The church dates back to medieval times, but was largely rebuilt in 1859, so it would have appeared quite different to Keats in 1819. (Links: St Blasius Church, Shanklin page on Wikipedia.)

St Blasius Church in Shanklin.

portrait | “John Keats” by Charles Brown

John Keats by Charles Armitage Brown, pencil, 1819

This is my favourite portrait of John Keats. It was drawn by his friend Charles Brown while they were staying at Eglantine Cottage (now Keats Cottage) on the Isle of Wight in the summer of 1819.

The drawing is held by the National Portrait Gallery in London, and I am sharing it under the NPG’s Creative Commons license. (Your respect for the terms of this license is appreciated.)

gallery | Keats House, Hampstead

Keats House, Hampstead, London

Keats House is a ‘writer’s home museum’ in honour of John Keats, who lived there for various periods between December 1818 and September 1820, when he left for Italy. It is a particularly significant location, as he wrote much of his most admired poetry there, and also fell deeply in love with the girl next door, Fanny Brawne.

Keats House on a snowy day in January 2013.

The Keats Connection

Keats House was originally known as Wentworth Place, and was built during the period 1814-15, on what was called John Street, near the edge of Hampstead Heath. The building contained two homes, although the facade makes it look like it’s all one. The area behind the main front door and the rooms to the right of it made up the larger portion, occupied by Charles Wentworth Dilke and his family. Charles Brown occupied the smaller home to the left, with an entrance midway along the left side of the house. (The large conservatory on the left was a later addition.)

After Keats’ youngest brother Tom Keats died in December 1818, Charles Brown asked John to move in with him. Keats occupied the living room at the rear on the ground floor, and the bedroom at the rear on the first floor.

The back of Keats House. Keats’ two rooms were on the right, on the ground and first floors.

The Dilke family moved out of their home in April 1819, and let it to the Brawne family. Keats fell in love with and became engaged to Fanny Brawne, the oldest of the family’s three children.

Almost all of Keats’ great odes were composed at Wentworth Place in 1819, as well as other poetry. Brown told the tale of how Keats wrote his ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ while sitting under a plum tree in the garden, though Dilke called Brown’s story ‘pure delusion’. In any case, the location and Fanny Brawne between them perhaps saw Keats at his happiest and most productive.

Keats spent time away from Wentworth Place travelling – especially when Charles Brown wanted to sublet his home during the summer. As Keats’ illness became more serious, he also lived for a time in lodgings near, and then with, Leigh Hunt’s family in London. After a falling out with the Hunts, however, Mrs Brawne generously took Keats into their home on the Dilkes’ side of Wentworth Place, and the Brawnes took care of him until Keats left for Italy in September 1820.

The Keats connection with Wentworth Place continued after Keats’ death in February 1821. At his request, Fanny Brawne befriended his young sister, Fanny Keats, who was living very unhappily with her guardian’s family in Walthamstow. Fanny Keats, once she came of age at 21 and could do as she wished, moved in with the Brawnes who welcomed her as a daughter and sister. Later, Fanny Keats married Valentine Llanos, and they moved into Brown’s part of the house with their first child, and lived there next to the Brawnes until their growing family forced them to move to larger quarters.

The Brawnes left Wentworth Place by early 1830, and the Llanos family left in 1831.

In Between

Primroses in the Keats House garden in April 2012.

The house was owned privately throughout the 1800s. The actress Eliza Jane Chester bought it in 1838, added the large conservatory, and converted the house into one home.

A ‘blue plaque’ was erected at Keats House in 1896 to acknowledge Keats’ residence there. It is actually a reddish-brown plaque, as was usual for those placed by the Society of Arts. Not many of these types of plaques survive. It reads:

John Keats. Poet. Lived in this house. B: 1795. D: 1821.

You can see it today above the House’s front door.

In 1920, the House was threatened with demolition so that a block of flats could be built on the land. A Memorial Committee managed to raise enough money to buy the house in 1921, and restore it as a museum in honour of the poet. Keats House was opened to the public on 9 May 1925. Various renovations have taken place since then.

The House is a Grade I listed building, and is now managed by the City of London.


Keats House is a wonderful place to visit. I find a real sense of peace there – which is not what I’d looked for. Since the most recent refurbishment in 2007-09, the place is really beautifully fitted out, and contains period-appropriate furnishings. You can visit not only the ground and first floors, but also the kitchen and other rooms in the basement. Guided tours are available each day the House is open.

  • NB: The first floor and the basement are only accessible via stairs – and fairly steep, narrow ones at that. People with restricted mobility should, however, be able to visit the ground floor with no problems, and I can promise that’s very worthwhile.

The items on display are changed on a regular basis, but the treasures I’ve seen there include the engagement ring Keats gave to Fanny Brawne, a notebook from his medical studies, his annotated copy of Shakespeare, and the letter Shelley sent him from Pisa. Otherwise, there’s plenty of artwork and other images, and information.

The gift shop is small but always carries an intriguing range of books, along with toys, gifts and souvenirs. On a practical note, there are conveniences in a small block behind the house. There is no cafe, but there are plenty just around the corner near the Hampstead Heath station (I highly recommend Euphorium Bakery), and even more up the hill towards the Hampstead station.

Keats House stands on a large block, with lovely gardens maintained in the kind of style Keats would have recognised. There is always plenty of greenery, almost always flowers, and there are plenty of benches from which to enjoy them.

Not only all that, but there are regular events held at Keats House including poetry performances, workshops, and family days. Evening events change according to the season, and often look at other poets, or other matters of interest in Keats’ era. Some guided tours focus on specific aspects of Keats’ life or work. Workshops are offered to schools for students at all levels. I am sure Keats would particularly appreciate the House’s support for today’s poets.


  • Address: Keats House, 10 Keats Grove, Hampstead, London NW3 2RR.
  • Tube: Hampstead Heath on the Overground line, or Hampstead on the Northern line.
  • NB: Opening hours: The House is not open all day every day, so it is always worth checking on the opening hours, and the time(s) of guided tours, before making plans.