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April 10 , 2010

The Immortal Evening: A Legendary Dinner with Keats, Wordsworth, and Lamb


A window onto the lives of the Romantic poets through the re-creation of one legendary night in 1817.

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The author of the highly acclaimed Posthumous Keats, praised as “full of . . . those fleeting moments we call genius” (Washington Post), now provides a window into the lives of Keats and his contemporaries in this brilliant new work.

On December 28, 1817, the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon hosted what he referred to in his diaries and autobiography as the “immortal dinner.” He wanted to introduce his young friend John Keats to the great William Wordsworth and to celebrate with his friends his most important historical painting thus far, “Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem,” in which Keats, Wordsworth, and Charles Lamb (also a guest at the party) appeared. After thoughtful and entertaining discussions of poetry and art and their relation to Enlightenment science, the party evolved into a lively, raucous evening. This legendary event would prove to be a highlight in the lives of these immortals.

A beautiful and profound work of extraordinary brilliance, The Immortal Evening regards the dinner as a lens through which to understand the lives and work of these legendary artists and to contemplate the immortality of genius.

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