Endymion (First Edition) by John Keats



2015-06-26 10:56:30

Endymion is a poem by John Keats (1795-1821). The first edition of this work was published in 1818 by Taylor and Hessey, London. Background

This long poem is based on the Greek myth of Endymion, which tells of a shepherd with whom the moon goddess Selene falls in love. Keats expanded the myth and renamed the goddess Cynthia. He dedicated the work to poet Thomas Chatterton, and claimed it was a ‘trial of my powers of imagination’.

Endymion received awful reviews from the critics, and Byron, among others, considered that this harsh criticism contributed to Keats’s death.

Plot, Characters, Themes

The poem is divided into four books of around 1,000 lines each. Keats begins by describing an idyllic rustic pastoral scene. Shepherds pray to Pan, the young ones dancing and singing, and the old ones discuss what their lives would be like in Elysium. Endymion is in a trance, and not involved in this discussion. Upon awaking, he tells his sister of his travels into the underworld and encounter with the goddess Cynthia, whom he loves.


John Keats is a favourite among English poets, and loved by many. He died at the tragic age of 25.

See main article: John Keats rare books and memorabilia

Notable auction sales and collecting tips

It is not recommended to restore first editions. First edition copies of Endymion (1818, Taylor and Hessey, London) are worth much more if they retain their original bindings. This can be unusual, for such classics of English Literature are often subjects for binding projects, or part of large collections that are uniformly bound to look attractive on a library shelf.

First editions were sold by Christie’s for $6,463 in October 2001, £3,360 in June 2007, $10,200 in December 2005, and £6,573 in June 2004.

First editions were sold by Sothebys for £3,000 in March 2005, £6,000 in July 2010, and £8,125 in July 2008.

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