John Keats and aspects of Christianity, 1600-1821

  • Winifred Wing Yin Liu

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This thesis explores the poet John Keats’s engagement with Christianity from three primary areas of interest. In my introduction I acknowledge existing scholarship on Keats’s religious stance, and explain my methodology of considering Keats’s views towards Christianity. Having established my approach on the subject, I then examine the ethos of the Keats-Jennings family churches – namely, St Stephen’s, Coleman Street, St Botolph’s-without-Bishopgate, and St Leonard’s, Shoreditch – and how their legacies shaped Keats’s religious nonconformity. My first chapter also devotes considerable attention to the republican inclinations of Coleman Street Ward residents in the seventeenth century, foreshadowing Keats’s dislike for the Church and State before his meeting with Leigh Hunt. Next, I explore the religio-political controversies which took place in Britain in the 1790’s, and with the context of a post-revolution Britain in mind, I discuss Keats’s own parodies of the Bible. Moving away from discussing historical background, my third chapter provides an encyclopaedic list of Keats’s allusions to the Bible in his letters and published poems, and my fourth and final chapter assesses and analyses these allusions. I conclude that Keats had an extensive knowledge of the Bible from which he occasionally drew guidance as a platform for refining his own ideas. I posit, with attention to John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and the Keats-Jennings’s collection of religious verse, that the Bible had considerable significance in shaping Keats’s intellectual and creative trajectory, including concepts of negative capability and the system of ‘Soul-making’.
Date of Award11 Jun 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorNicholas Hugh Roe (Supervisor)


  • John Keats
  • Religious dissent
  • Puritanism
  • St Stephen's, Coleman Street
  • St Botolph's without Bishopgate
  • St Leonard's, Shoreditch
  • Religious politics
  • Southwell's Bible
  • The Examiner

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 30 April 2029

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