February 25th 2018

A former history teacher is to take over as curator of Keats House in Hampstead, the poet’s home from 1818 to 1820.

Robert Shakespeare, who will lead the team at the City of London Corporation-owned museum and literary centre from 5th March, worked for 10 years as a history teacher in a north London comprehensive, before moving into the museum sector.

His first role was a Museum Education Officer in Enfield where, coincidentally, John Keats undertook his education and apprenticeship, followed in 2003 as Education Manager at the Museum of Croydon.

Four years later, Robert was promoted to Museum and Archives Manager and worked on exhibitions and projects to raise awareness of Croydon's historic collections and build upon his work to attract new audiences to the Museum.

Robert said: “I am looking forward to joining the team at Keats House as we begin drawing up plans on how to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Keats’ time at the house.

“The bicentenary is an ideal opportunity to re-examine the life of a young artist, living and working in London at a critical point in its development as a world-leading cultural capital.

“As well as engaging with those who know and admire Keats’ poetry, we will aim to bring his work to new audiences and specifically, the next generation of young poets and culture lovers in London".

Graham Packham, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee, said: “Robert will certainly relish the opportunity to raise awareness of Keats’ legacy in the house where he wrote some of his best-loved work, including ‘Ode to a Nightingale’, nearly 200 years ago.

“This beautiful house in Hampstead has become a popular place for people to visit, reflect upon Keats’ poetry and his tragically short life, and for poetry lovers themselves, to draw inspiration for their own work".

The City of London Corporation, which owns and manages Keats House, invests over £100m every year in heritage and cultural activities of all kinds. It is the UK’s largest funder of cultural activities after the government, the BBC, and Heritage Lottery Fund.

It is also developing Culture Mile between Farringdon and Moorgate – a multi-million-pound investment which will create a new cultural and creative destination for London over the next 10 to 15 years. This includes £110m funding to support the Museum of London’s move to West Smithfield and £2.5m to support the detailed business case for the proposed Centre for Music.