Thursday, 14 August 2014

Guy's Hospital, St Thomas Street SE1

John Keats trained as a surgeon-apothecary at Guy's Hospital but was so disgusted by the bloody work of a sawbones in the era before anaesthetics that he turned to poetry instead.
This charming memorial was created by Stuart Williamson in 2007 in memory of DR Robert Knight, a doctor at Guy's and prominent Keats fan.
Keats sits holding a notebook, looking out as if in the act of creation. He sits in a niche that was installed on Old London Bridge in 1758 when the old houses were swept away, only to be removed themselves when the whole bridge was rebuilt.
Williamson specialises in portrait sculpture, including Tussaud-style wax figures for museums.
During the war, the British Council used to send academics to the troops to deliver improving lectures. A sergeant-major in Egypt, the story goes, announced to his men: "This afternoon, a professor is going to give you a lecture about Keats, though I don't suppose any of you iggerant bastards knows what a Keat is."

2 comments:

Hels said...

When my husband was doing his junior and senior resident years in London hospitals, we visited Guy's etc. But I did not know that John Keats trained as a surgeon. Look what you learn from history blogs!

The Duke of Waltham said...

Nice little memorial. Though one has to wonder how many people were robbed in that alcove's shadow while it was on the bridge...