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Famous King's People

John Keats

The Romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821) studied to become an apothecary (the forerunner of a general practitioner) at Guy's from 1815 to 1816.

Lectures he attended included the principles and practice of surgery by the famous surgeon Sir Astley Cooper, later a member of the Council of King's. Ironically this medical training made Keats a good nurse to his brother Tom who died of tuberculosis, leading to Keats's own death from the disease at the age of 25.

Keats's desire to become a poet led him to abandon medicine soon after he completed his training. His 'Ode to a Nightingale' recalls:

The weariness, the fever and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs,
Where youth grows spectre-thin, and dies.

Other famous King's writers

Keats is one of many famous writers who were alumni of King's and its constituent institutions. These include:

  • Charles Kingsley
  • John Ruskin
  • Leslie Stephen
  • Sir William Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan)
  • Thomas Hardy
  • Somerset Maugham
  • Anita Brookner
  • Sir Arthur C Clarke
  • Helen Cresswell
  • Maureen Duffy
  • Radclyffe Hall
  • Susan Hill
  • Susan Howatch
  • Derek Jarman
  • Hanif Kureishi
  • Lawrence Norfolk.
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