The Immortal Dinner by Penelope Hughes-Hallett
A Famous Evening of Genius and Laughter in Literary London, 1817 (New Amsterdam)

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On December 28, 1817, the eccentric painter B. R. Haydon gave a famous dinner party in his painting room in London. He invited, among others, three of the greatest literary lights of the age: the poets John Keats and William Wordsworth and the essayist and wit Charles Lamb. Over the course of a long winter evening of delights, the guests recited poetry, indulged in high-minded conversation, and took part in ridiculous antics, with such displays of brilliance and wit that the party came to be known as the Immortal Dinner. Penelope Hughes-Hallett celebrates this unique gathering by vividly bringing to life these illustrious diners against a backdrop of social change. Literary London society was at its extraordinarily gifted best just two years after Waterloo: the Elgin Marbles controversy still raged; Mrs. Siddons performed Lady Macbeth in her drawing room to a distinguished audience; Joseph Ritchie, a young physician and would-be poet, prepared to explore the River Niger with a copy of Keats in his pocket. The Immortal Dinner offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives and thoughts of this literary elite at a turning point in English society. It recaptures these rare spirits, using a great many of their own words from letters and diaries. With 75 black-and-white illustrations and 2 maps.

About Penelope Hughes-Hallett

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Penelope Hughes-Hallett has also written My Dear Cassandra and Home at Grasmere, and has edited Childhood: A Collins Anthology. She lives in Warwickshire, England.
Published January 1, 2000 by London: Viking Press. 360 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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The Guardian

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(This rather contradicts Haydon's earlier account of Wordsworth's crushing condescension when Keats recited his "Hymn to Pan" from this poem: "a very pretty piece of Paganism," he said, with a curl of the lip.) The talk is gone, so when Penelope Hughes-Hallett sets out in this book to recreate ...

Sep 23 2000 | Read Full Review of The Immortal Dinner: A Famous...

The Guardian

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The Immortal Dinner Penelope Hughes-Hallett Viking £15.99, pp336 Buy it at BOL On 28 December, 1817 the painter Benjamin Haydon gave a dinner party at his London home to introduce the promising young poet John Keats to the mighty William Wordsworth.

Sep 24 2000 | Read Full Review of The Immortal Dinner: A Famous...

Publishers Weekly

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A single dinner, attended 185 years ago by such literary luminaries as William Wordsworth, John Keats and Charles Lamb, no matter how brilliant the conversation, may not seem a sufficient subject for a book of 300 pages—but it is in Hughes-Hallett's hands.

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The Bookbag

Summary: A vivid account of the dinner thrown by painter Benjamin Robert Haydon in December 1817 at his London lodgings, for guests including Wordsworth, Keats and Lamb - an interesting cultural gathering at a time of great social upheaval.

Sep 03 2012 | Read Full Review of The Immortal Dinner: A Famous...

London Review of Books

Tactlessness is scarcely a tragic flaw: Haydon was obsessed with the heroic in art, yet in life he was often closer to the comic, his flair for insulting the wrong person at the wrong moment costing him chance after chance, losing him friends, recognition and patronage.

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