A Legendary Dinner With Keats, Wordsworth, And Lamb (EXCERPT)

October 20, 2014 12:28 PM

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If you could invite five people, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would you pick? It's a parlor game we've all probably played, and the answers usually throw together some highly unlikely dining companions -- Jesus and Eminem, Shakespeare and Hillary Clinton. A few times in history, however, there have been actual dinner parties that almost could be an answer to this question. For example, on December 28, 1817, the artist Benjamin Robert Haydon held a dinner attended by not only the writer Charles Lamb, but both John Keats and William Wordsworth -- a gathering many poetry buffs would give up an appendage to have attended. In his new book The Immortal Evening: A Legendary Dinner With Keats, Wordsworth, and Lamb, excerpted below, Stanley Plumly brings that dinner to life, using it as a focal point to examine the careers of these great men and the relationships between them.

"In December Wordsworth was in town, and as Keats wished to know him I made up a party to dinner of Charles Lamb, Wordsworth, Keats and Monkhouse, his friend; and a very pleasant party we had.” Haydon, in this reference in his Autobiography, confuses a couple of things: first, Keats may well have “w...

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