Sacred Relics: A Discovery of New Severn Letters

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A recent discovery of hundreds of letters from Joseph Severn to his wife Elizabeth sheds new light on Severn's relationship with Keats, especially in the period from 1841 to 1861 when he returned to England. A pair of unpublished letters, printed here for the first time, concern Severn's handling of the poet's relics and invite us to revise standard notions of his famous role as “The Friend of Keats.” Through these letters Severn becomes a much more complex psychological figure than the legendary label allows. We see him struggle to balance his own declining fortunes as an artist with his enduring commitment to Keats's legacy.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2005

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