Modern Books & Manuscripts Collection

The Harvard Keats Collection

Keats Family Books
in the Harvard Keats Collection, Houghton Library
List compiled by Leslie A. Morris


There is no complete catalog of books owned by Keats; the primary source of information is a list by Charles Brown, “List of Mr. John Keats’ Books,” (Keats Circle I, 253-60) compiled probably in July 1821 after the poet’s death.  Frank Owings, in The Keats Library (1978) estimates that Keats accumulated less than a hundred volumes, consisting largely of contemporary poetry (e.g. Shelley, Hunt, Wordsworth) and the classics (e.g. Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare).

Keats gave away some of his books before his departure for Italy, most notably to Fanny Brawne; most he left with his sometime housemate, Charles Brown.  He took with him only his pocket set of Shakespeare’s Dramatic Works (now at Houghton) and Shakespeare’s Poetical Works (now at Keats House, Hampstead). These he gave to Joseph Severn in 1821.

Keats’s informal will, written before he left England for Italy, directed “My Chest of Books divide among my friends” (Rollins, ed. Letters of John Keats, II, 319). Brow did so, dispersing them among eight of Keats’s friends, and retaining some for himself. Brown returned books Keats had borrowed to their rightful owners; gift books to their givers; and the remainder as he saw fit. The volumes are now widely scattered, in both public and private libraries.

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The Harvard Collection

While the total number of books at Harvard is small (11 titles owned by the poet, another 10 by members of his family)l, they reward close study. The most important is perhaps the seven-volume set of Shakespeare’s Dramatic Works, marked and annotated by Keats.

The Library has begun a program of digitizing the books in the collection, and links to those images are indicated in the entries below.  Access to the original volumes is restricted, and the curator’s permission to examine must be obtained in advance of a visit.  If the volumes have been digitized, access to the originals is not permitted.

All of the Keats family books held at Houghton Library are cataloged in HOLLIS, Harvard’s online catalog, and those records will contain fuller bibliographic description. To find these records, search HOLLIS by author and title, and include the keyword Keats.

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Series I - Books Owned by John Keats

Arranged alphabetically by author.

Alemán, Matheo. The rogue, or, The life of Guzman de Alfarache.  London : Printed by R.B. for Robert Allot, and are to be sold at his shop in Pauls Church-yard, at the signe of the blacke Beare, 1634.
John Keats's copy, presented to him by James Rice, 20 April 1818; With markings and annotations by Keats. This copy later inspired R.H. Stoddard to write his sonnet:""To the immortal memory of Keats, (On coming into possession of his copy of Guzman d’Alfarache).""
Call number: f Keats EC8 K2262 Zz634a
Bound with:
Rojas, Fernando de.The Spanish bawd, : represented in Celestina: or, The tragicke-comedy of Calisto and Melibea : wherein is contained, besides the pleasantnesse and sweetenesse of the stile, many philosophicall sentences, and profitable instructions necessary for the younger sort : shewing the deceits and subtilties housed in the bosomes of false servants, and cunny-catching bawds. London : Printed by I. B[eale] and are to be sold by Robert Allot ..., 1631.   
Call number: f Keats *EC8.K2262.Zz634a

Bible. N.T. Gr. and Lat. 1717. Hē Kainē Diathēkē. Novum Testamentum, cum versione latina Ariae Montani, in quo tum selecti versiculi 1900, quibus omnes Novi Testamenti voces continentur, asteriscis notantur; tum omnes & singulae voces, semel vel saepius occurrentes, peculiari nota distinguuntur, auctore Johanne Leusden, professore.  Amstelaedami, ex officina Wetsteniana. M D CC XVII.
Inscribed by Keats: "John Keats from his friend John Taylor Septr. 1820."
Call number: Keats *EC8 K2262 Zz717b

Chatterton, Thomas. Poems, supposed to have been written at Bristol, by Thomas Rowley, and others, in the fifteenth century : the greatest part now first published from the most authentic copies, with an engraved specimen of one of the mss : to which are added, a preface, an introductory account of the several pieces, and a glossary. London : Printed for T. Payne and Son, at the Mews-Gate, 1777.
John Keats's copy, with his underlinings and marginal markins on pp. 82-83 and 88-89 and inscribed to John H. Reynolds. Includes Reynolds' further annotations. The Frank J. Hogan- J.O.  Edwards-Estelle Doheny copy, with their bookplates.
Call number: Keats *EC8.K2262.Zz777c

Hazlitt, William Political essays, with sketches of public characters./ By William Hazlitt. London: : Printed for William Hone ..., 1819.
At head of title, in autograph of John Keats: George Keats 1820     
Call number: Keats *EC8 K2262 Zz819h2

Hazlitt, William. Characters of Shakespear’s plays. London, Printed by C.H. Reynell, for R. Hunter [etc.] 1817.
John Keats’s copy with his autograph and annotations.  From the library of Amy Lowell.
Color digital facsimile:
Call number: Keats *EC8 K2262 Zz817h

Hunt, Leigh         Foliage; or Poems original and translated. London: Printed for C. and J. Ollier ..., 1818.
Inscribed: John Keats from his affectionate friend the Author.
Call number: Keats *EC8 K2262 Zz818h 

Jackson, Zacharia. Shakspeare's genius justified: being restorations and illustrations of seven hundred passages in Shakspeare's plays: which have afforded abundant scope for critical animadversion; and hitherto held at defiance the penetration of all Shakspeare's commentators. ... London, Printed by J. Johnson, for J. Major, 1819.
John Keats’s copy with his manuscript annotations, and inscription: "Wm. Haslam to John Keats."  From the Library of Amy Lowell.
Call number: Keats *EC8 K2262 Zz819j

Moraes, Francisco de. Palmerín of England. London : Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme, 1807.
Keats’s copy with his markings, given by him to Thornton Leigh Hunt; later owned by Hazlitt; reclaimed from a bookstall by Leigh Hunt (see Leigh Hunt’s autograph note on fly leaves v. 1); most recently in the library of Lucius Wilmerding.
Color digital facsimile:
Call number: Keats *EC8 K2262 Zz807p

Selden, John. Titles of honor. London, Printed by E. Tyler, and R. Holt, for Thomas Dring, 1672.
John Keats’s copy with his autograph dated 1819 on the titlepage, and the beginnings of an index in his hand on the front flyleaf.
Call number: f Keats EC8 K2262 Zz672s 

Shakespeare, William. The dramatic works of William Shakspeare. London : Sold by Carpenter and Son [etc.], 1814-[1818]
John Keats’s copy with his markings & annotations throughout, and his inscription (partly cropped in binding) on t.-p. of v. 1: John Keats - April 1817 to Joseph Seve[rn].  Each vol. autographed by Severn after the present binding in vellum boards was supplied; v. 1 inscribed by G.A. Armour, the subsequent owner of the set.
Color digital facsimile:
Call number: Keats *EC8 K2262 Zz814s

Spenser, Edmund. The works of Mr. Edmund Spenser : in six volumes : with a glossary explaining the old and obscure words / publish'd by Mr. Hughes. London : Printed for Jacob Tonson ..., 1715.
John Keats’s copy with his markings and annotations; contains also the autographs of George Keats, 1816, and John Jeffrey.
Color digital facsimile:
Call number: Keats *EC8.K2262.Zz715s

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Series II - Books owned by other members of the Keats family

Arranged alphabetically by author.

Hazlitt, William. Lectures on the English comic writers. Delivered at the Surry Institution. ... London, Taylor and Hessey, 1819.
Autographed on title-page: Geo. Keats. From the library of Amy Lowell.
Call number: Keats *EC8 K2262 Zz819h

Cunningham, Allan. The lives of the most eminent British painters and sculptors. By Allan Cunningham ... New York, J. & J. Harper, 1831-1833.     Autographed on title-page of each volume: Geo Keats 1831.  From the library of Amy Lowell.
Call number: Keats *EC8.K2262.Zy831c

Episcopal Church. The Book of Common Prayer, and administration of the sacraments; and other rites and ceremonies of the Church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, together with the Psalter, or Psalms of David. Baltimore, Joseph N. Lewis [1817]
Signed on fly-leaf "Georgiana Augusta Keats 1826".  Tin box (used as case) received with this volume, cataloged in finding aid: John Keats Images and Artifacts (Keats Room).
Call number: Keats *EC8 K2262 Zy817p

Goldsmith, Oliver. Goldsmiths poems, and essays. London. Published by I.F. De Valengin, Mabledon place, Burton crescent, New road, June, 1, 1817.
Inscribed on title-page.: Fanny M. Keats from her affectionate Brother John
Call number: Keats *EC8 K2262 Zy817g

Saint-Pierre, Bernadin de. Paul and Virginia: translated from the French of Bernardin Saint-Pierre; by Helen Maria Williams. Elizabeth; or, The exiles of Siberia. A tale, founded upon facts: from the French of Madame Cottin. London: Printed for Walker and Edwards; F.C. and J. Rivington; J. Nunn [and 14 others] ... 1817.
Autographed: Frances Keats June 10th 1818
Call number: Keats *EC8 K2262 Zy817s

Collins, William. The poetical works of William Collins : with the life of the author and critical observations by Dr. Langhorne. London : Published by Suttaby, Evance, and Fox, 1815.
Mounted on inside front cover is label inscribed: "Miss Keats. The reward of Merit and Industry. Misses Caley’s Midsummer Vacation 1816." Awarded to Fanny Keats while attending a boarding school at 12 Marsh St., Walthamston.
Call number: Keats *EC8 K2262 Zy815c

Turner, Richard. An easy introduction to the arts and sciences : being a short, but comprehensive system of useful and polite learning; divided into lessons; illustrated with cuts, and adapted to the use of schools and academies. London : Printed for F.C. and J. Rivington, G. Wilkie, J. Scatcherd and C. Letterman, B. and R. Crosby and Co., J. Walker, Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, C. Law, J. Mawman, and Gale, Cutris, and Fenner, 1814 (Sarum : Brodie and Dowding, printers)
Autographs of Fanny Keats at front and back; one dated 5 October 1816.
Call number: Keats *EC8 K2262 Zy814t

Morell, Charles, Sir. The tales of the genii; or, The delighful lessons of Horam, the son of Asmar. Faithfully translated from the Persian manuscript. And compared with the French and Spanish editions, published at Paris and Madrid. By Sir Charles Morell [pseud.] London, Printed for C. Cooke, by J. Adlard [1797?]
Inscribed: John Keats to his dear Sister 1817-.
Call number: Keats *EC8 K2262 Zy810r

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