Averse to surgery? : The (short) surgical career of John Keats


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Averse to surgery? : The (short) surgical career of John Keats

  1. 1. AVERSE TO SURGERY? : THE (SHORT) SURGICAL CAREER OF JOHN KEATS Andrew Luck Northern Adelaide Colorectal Network Lyell McEwin Hospital South Australia
  2. 2. JOHN KEATS <ul><li>Born 31 st October 1795, at Swan and Hoop Stables, Moorfields, London </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Father (Thomas Keats) was the manager of the livery stable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mother (Frances Jennings), daughter of the owner of the stables </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Oldest of 5, three brothers and one sister </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1797 George </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1799 Tom </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1801 Edward (died before 1 st birthday) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1803 Frances Mary (Fanny) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. JOHN KEATS <ul><li>1804, father thrown from a horse and died of a broken skull </li></ul><ul><li>10 weeks later, Frances Keats remarries - to William Rawlings, a bank clerk, who sold the stables </li></ul><ul><li>Children move in with their maternal grandparents, John and Alice Jennings </li></ul><ul><li>1805 John Jennings dies </li></ul>
  4. 4. JOHN KEATS <ul><li>1810 Mother died of tuberculosis, tended to by Keats </li></ul><ul><li>Schooling was from 1803 to 1810 at Enfield, a public school 10 miles north of London </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Average scholar </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Won several prizes in last year at school </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good fighter, despite his small stature </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Befriended Charles Cowden Clarke, his tutor and son of the headmaster </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. APOTHECARY <ul><li>1811, Apprenticed to a Thomas Hammond, a surgeon and apothecary in Edmonton </li></ul><ul><li>1813, aged 18, first shows interest in poetry </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cowden Clarke gave Keats a copy of Faerie Queen by Edmund Spenser (1590) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1814 First poem written “Imitation of Spenser” </li></ul></ul>
  6. 8. APOTHECARY <ul><li>Poetry and medicine are intertwined </li></ul><ul><li>1815 – Keats enters Guy’s Hospital as an apprentice to Astley Cooper </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Working with Frederick Tyrell ad George Cooper </li></ul></ul><ul><li>March 1816 – elevated to ‘dresser’ to William Lucas </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lucas was a poor surgeon, thought be some to be the reason that Keats did not continue </li></ul></ul>
  7. 11. 1816 - POETRY AND MEDICINE <ul><li>May </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>First published poem “O Solitude” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>July </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Passed apothecary examination </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>October </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Writes “On first looking into Chapman’s Homer” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Meets Leigh Hunt, poet and publisher </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>December </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hunt publishes Chapman sonnet in same volume as early works of Shelley </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 12. 1816 - POETRY AND MEDICINE <ul><li>Continued dresser’s job </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Treated outpatients and emergencies (1 in 12 weeks) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2 rooms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>14’ x 14’ for outpatients and minor procedures </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>14’ x 5’ for major procedures and rich patients! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lotions, leeches, cupping, no medicines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lectures, dissection, ward rounds with surgeons, assisting in theatre </li></ul></ul>
  9. 14. 1816 - POETRY AND MEDICINE <ul><li>Apollo </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Greek God </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Son of Zeus and Leto </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>God of music, poetry, plague, oracles, medicine, light and knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Symbols were the lyre (music and poetry) and the python (an early version of the Rod of Asclepius – the symbol of medicine) </li></ul></ul>
  10. 16. 1816 - POETRY AND MEDICINE <ul><li>Apollo </li></ul><ul><li>Important symbolism to Keats </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wrote ‘Ode to Apollo’ 1817 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wrote ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ 1819 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Apollo mentioned in his most significant work “Endymion” 1817 </li></ul></ul>
  11. 17. 1817 <ul><li>Finished dressership successfully </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Did not sit RCS exam, nor collect an official certificate of completion from Guy’s Hospital </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In spring 1817, Keats handed in his plasterbox and left the wards </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul></ul>
  12. 19. BERLIOZ <ul><li>“ Become a doctor! Study anatomy! Dissect! Witness horrible operations instead of throwing myself heart and soul into the glorious art of music! Forsake the empyrean for the dreary realities of earth! The immortal angels of poetry and love and their inspired songs for filthy hospitals, dreadful medical students, hideous corpses, the shrieks of patients, the groans and death rattles of the dying.” </li></ul>
  13. 20. KEATS <ul><li>Not so for Keats </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Didn’t lack the stomach for surgery </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With Apollo as his symbol, recognised the aesthetic value of tending to a sick patient </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spoke of Astley Cooper “a surgeon needed an eagle’s eye, a lady’s hand and a lion’s heart” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Admired those who performed surgery </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 21. KEATS <ul><li>In later years </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wrote of his pleasure that his mind and his library still contained the materias of his surgical studies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When poetry was going poorly, he thought of coming back to medicine </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Considered recovering from tuberculosis while working as a ship’s surgeon </li></ul></ul>
  15. 22. KEATS <ul><li>Quoted later ‘in no period of my life have I acted with any self will but in throwing up the apothecary profession’ </li></ul><ul><li>Carpe diem </li></ul><ul><li>He chose poetry </li></ul>