John Keats love letter fetches £96,000

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The Independent Culture

A love letter sent by the Romantic poet John Keats fetched a record £96,000 at auction in London yesterday.

Keats penned the letter to Fanny Brawne in 1820 – a year before he died, aged 25, from tuberculosis. Brawne lived next door to Keats in Hampstead, north London, but their love was never consummated because of the poet's contagious illness.

In the letter, Keats writes about not being able to kiss his fiancée, calling himself "a poor prisoner" who will "not sing in a cage". Brawne's letters to Keats were buried with the poet after he died in a room near the Spanish Steps in Rome.

The letter auctioned yesterday was the last of Keats's 30 surviving love letters to Brawne still in private hands. Bonhams said the sale set a world record for a document by the poet. It was sold to the City of London Corporation.