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Cover of Bright Star, Green Light by Jonathan Bate
February 2021

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Bright Star, Green Light

The Beautiful and Damned Lives of John Keats and F. Scott Fitzgerald
Jonathan Bate

A dazzling biography of two interwoven, tragic lives: John Keats and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

"For awhile after you quit Keats," Fitzgerald once wrote, "All other poetry seems to be only whistling or humming."

John Keats died 200 years ago, in February 1821. F. Scott Fitzgerald defined a decade that began 100 years ago, the Jazz Age.

In this biography, prizewinning author Jonathan Bate recreates these two shining, tragic lives in parallel. Not only was Fitzgerald profoundly influenced by Keats, titling "Tender is the Night" and other works from the poet's lines, but the two lived with echoing fates: both died young, loved to drink, were plagued by tuberculosis, were haunted by their first love, and wrote into a new decade of release, experimentation and decadence.

Luminous and vital, this biography goes through the looking glass to meet afresh two of the greatest and best-known Romantic writers in their twinned centuries.


Sir Jonathan Bate is a Foundation Professor of Environmental Humanities with a joint appointment in the Global Futures Laboratory and the Department of English in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Praise for this book

"A daring, dizzying attempt to connect Keats and F Scott Fitzgerald has plenty to take pleasure in … Bate, whose recent biography of Wordsworth I admired, is at his best when he zeroes in on the work: his feeling for it, by being so exacting, is infectious, especially in the case of Keats … But in the end, the principal achievement of this pairing is to remind us of the way that literature connects us." 

Rachel Cooke

"With a fine-tuned ear for poetic language, a master-biographer’s eye for the revealing detail, and an astonishing mental filing system that recognizes countless meaningful matches among the works and lives of these two great, doomed writers, Jonathan Bate has written a wonderfully illuminating and moving book."

Robert Watson
Distinguished Professor of English, UCLA