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Biography & Biopic

Interpreting Keats

“I'm not really a fan of the biopic. I felt like I needed a specific angle.”
Jane Campion

Campion's production is informed by Andrew Motion’s account of Keats’ love affair with Fanny Brawne in his 1999 biography of the poet. A director’s interpretation of a subject who died in 1821, based on a biography written more than 150 years later, raises a raft of interesting questions about interpreting the lives of historical and literary figures.


Use the materials on this site and your own learning about Keats to address the following:

  1. To what extent is it possible, or desirable, to recreate the life of a literary figure for a modern audience?
  2. Do you think it is possible or desirable to 'read' a poet’s, or an author’s life into their work?
  3. What is missing from the biographical information on Keats’ life that we are presented with in Bright Star? Does this missing knowledge matter?
  4. In what different ways are versions of Keats presented to and interpreted by the public? What value does each of these have for different audiences and readers?
  5. Why do you think the director chose to focus on the relationship with Fanny, rather than a traditional 'life of the poet' in the film?
  6. In what ways did the film Bright Star increase your understanding of Keats and his poetry?

The director on the set of Bright Star

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Close-up profile of a woman carefully checking the view through the lens of a full-sized film camera