Born in a pub, trained as a surgeon, he died in Rome, in rooms overlooking the Spanish Steps, where he had gone to recover from tuberculosis and his passionate love for Fanny Brawne. His condition deteriorated, caused partly by his treatment, which involved bleeding, a diet of one anchovy per day, and the confiscation of his laudanum, which resulted in him enduring agonies. His friend Joseph Severn, who was taking care of him, wrote, “Keats raves till I am in a complete tremble for him... " He was buried in Rome’s Protestant Cemetery with a headstone bearing the inscription ‘Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water’.
He met Fanny in London in 1818 and fell deeply in love, though because of his poverty he knew he could never marry her. He wrote to her 'I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion – I have shudder'd at it – I shudder no more – I could be martyr'd for my Religion – Love is my religion – I could die for that – I could die for you."
In 1820 he was advised to move to a warmer climate because of his tuberculosis, and he left England knowing he would never see her again.
He died aged twenty-five having sold about two hundred copies of his three books of poems. “I have left no immortal work behind me – nothing to make my friends proud of my memory” he wrote to her.