At the foot of the Spanish Steps stands the house in which the young English poet, John Keats, died on February 23rd, 1821. However, a plaque on the wall facing the steps notes the date of his death as February 24th. This apparent discrepancy can be explained by the fact that Keats died in the evening of February 23rd, after nightfall, which, in the Rome of 1821, signalled the start of a new day.
Keats, who was suffering from tuberculosis, had been advised by his doctors not to spend another winter in London. He therefore headed south with his friend the artist Joseph Severn. The pair pitched up in Rome on November 14th, 1820, but it was too late for the chronically sick poet. On November 30th Keats wrote to a friend: "I have an habitual feeling of my real life having past, and that I am leading a posthumous existence." It was the last letter he wrote.
In 1906 the house was bought by the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association and opened three years later as a small and evocative museum and library dedicated to the writers Keats, Shelley, Byron and Leigh-Hunt, all of whom had spent time in Italy.