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Keats and Shelley House Museum

Keats and Shelley House Museum (37)

The British poet John Keats arrived in Rome on the 15th of November 1820, after a trip of almost two months that began in his native England. Keats was already weak due to the tuberculosis he was suffering from, for which his doctor James Clark advised him that the warm Roman climate would help him withstand the pain better. 

So that is how Keats arrived in the Italian city, aged only 25, accompanied by his friend John Severn, and settled in the house called Casina Rossa, at number 26 of the Piazza di Spagna. The English poet died in February of the following year.

His death inspired another romantic poet of the time, Percy Bysshe Shelley, to write the poem “Elegy on the Death of Adonis”. Shelley died one year after Keats, in 1822, in a boating accident on the Italian coast. At the time, it is said he was carrying a copy of Keats’ poems in his pocket.

You will find the tombs of these two poets alongside that of Severn in the Protestant Cemetery of Rome. 

In 1906 the Anglo-American Association decided to conserve the house in memory of the romantic English poets. If you decide to visit it, you will be amazed by the peaceful atmosphere inside, in contrast to the bustling surrounding area. Through the large window of the Library room you will be able to see the swarms of people moving across the Piazza di Spagna. 

In Keats’ rooms, on the first floor, there are manuscripts, documents and even a lock of hair of the poet. Also conserved are osseous fragments of Shelley and a carnival mask that Byron brought from Venice.

You can also visit the room where Keats died, although the original furnishing is not there, since this was ordered to be burnt by the Pope. Nevertheless, take a look at the floral drawings on the bedroom ceiling. They are the same drawings that made the poet, in his agony, exclaim: "I can see how the flowers are growing above me!"

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