Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton (1809-1885) was a poet in his own right and a great patron of literature. It is Lord Houghton that started to the library of books now known as the Crewe Collection and held here at West Horsley Place and at Trinity College Library, Cambridge. 

It may be hard to believe now, but on his death in 1821, and for years after, Keats' work was not well or widely known. He died convinced that he had left no meaningful legacy, 

""I have left no immortal work behind me – nothing to make my friends proud of my memory – but I have lov'd the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time I would have made myself remember'd." (from a letter to Fanny Brawne, Feb 1820)

Lord Houghton's biography, published in 1848 was the first, and significant in placing Keats within the canon of English literature. Houghton's influence was also important in moulding public opinion on literary matters. His inclusion of Keats' letters in the biography went against the grain of public opinion of the time; for most of the 19th century the letters were disregarded as distractions from Keats' poetic work. Now of course, Keats' letters are almost as admired as his poetry.

"It is a far deeper source of satisfaction to have received the ratification by public opinion of judgements, once doubted or derided, and thus to have anticipated the tardy justice which a great work of art frequently obtains, when the hand of the artist is cold, and the heart, that palpitated under neglect, is still for ever. " (Dedication to 'Life, Letters and Literary Remains of John Keats'. 

To find out more about West Horsley Place's literary connections, read June Davey's fascinating piece on the subject on our History Articles page