Sunday, 21 January 2007


This is the front and back cover of Rebel Angel:

Rebel Angel

This cover was designed by Jo-Anne Friedlander of User Friendly.

" A vivid and moving account of the young Keats "
Shaun de Waal in Mail & Guardian Winter Reading Supplement 2005

ISBN 9780620339506

Out of print

Saturday, 20 January 2007

Why the title Rebel Angel?

Here, in his own handwriting, is what John Keats wrote to a friend:

I feel confident I should have been a rebel Angel had the opportunity been mine.

Because of his poor birth and upbringing and his lack of a university education, he was never accepted by the literary Establishment, and his politics were distinctly left of centre, so his claim to Haydon is not without substance.

" ... striking narrative manner and unembellished style ... attractive and reader-friendly packaging ..."

– Marina le Roux in Die Burger 17 October 2005 (translated from Afrikaans)

Friday, 19 January 2007

The images on the Rebel Angel cover

On both front and back covers, images of John Keats's life-mask are used:

This is the Keats life-mask
on the wall of my study

Sometimes the whole mask is used (as on the back cover), and sometimes only a detail (as in two of the four front-cover images). Permission and a licence to use photographs of the life mask had to be obtained from the British National Portrait Gallery.

"... intriguing, informative biography of John Keats which serves as a lively introduction to some of his poetry and how it came to be written ..."

– Jay Heale in SA Children’s Book Forum Newsletter July 2005

Thursday, 18 January 2007

The first words of the novel

Not intend to be a surgeon! After six years of training? Well, what do you intend to be?’
Mr Abbey was so angry he was spluttering. He looked down at the young man in front of him. John had thought long and hard about this moment. He had waited until he turned twenty-one, knowing that now his guardian couldn’t force him to do what he didn’t want to. He steeled himself, and then looked up at the taller man, and said:
‘I want … I’m going to be a poet, sir.’
That was more than Abbey could take. His eyes widened in outraged astonishment.
‘Are you mad, John? Or just a fool? That’s absurd.’
‘I’m sorry, sir,’ said John very quietly, ‘but my mind’s made up. I’m good, sir, better than most. And I’m sure I can earn a living by writing.’
Abbey looked at him as if he were some newly discovered and particularly unpleasant species, and, with an upward sneer of his lip, he said:
‘Well, all I’ve got to say, boy, is that you’re being … silly. I’ll tell you one thing. It won’t be long before you’re forced to give up this selfish notion.’
‘I don’t think so, sir.’ How dare he call me ‘boy’? What’s the point of turning twenty-one if he’s still going to think of me as a ‘boy’?

" Robin Malan’s beautifully presented Rebel Angel is a tender, humorous and informative account of the life of John Keats ... this high-quality publication ... "

– Michelle McGrane online at LitNet 1 June 2005

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Rebel Angel at Keats House

Towards the end of his short life (he died at the age of 25), Keats shared half of Wentworth Place with his friend Charles Brown. For some time, his beloved Fanny Brawne, the love of his life, and her mother, sister and brother lived in the other half of the house.

The house is now the Keats House, in Keats Grove, in Hampstead. It is a wonderful museum of things Keatsian.

On the shelves of its merchandise shop, you will find copies of Rebel Angel, on sale at £9.99.

If you're there, be sure to buy a copy.

" The academic background to the book is unsurpassed ... the life and death of a tragic genius, vividly portrayed in this work. "
Michael Hurry in The Sunday Independent 22 May 2005

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Why a book on Keats in 2005?

" We read every day, and we hear on radio every day, about some youngster totally overcoming the most severe drawbacks and achieving wonders. I think Keats’s story is one of those, and I want young South Africans to read about him and feel ‘Hey, I could do that!’ As like as not, they, like him, will go out and do it. And I want them to know that you can achieve in whatever area you choose to ... like, you can be a poet! "

Robin Malan

Monday, 15 January 2007

Reviewed in Keats-Shelley Journal

The prestigious Keats-Shelley Journal Volume LV 2006 published by the Keats-Shelley Association of America Inc. carries a review of Rebel Angel.

"... the book is written in an elegant and direct style ... the passages from Mr Keats's letters are remarkably helpful when trying to place Keats's exact feelings ... Robin Malan writes with a sense of tenderness and kindness ... I would definitely recommend this book to a friend."
- Emily Jakubisin (a. 11)

The adult reviewer Brenda Walton notes: 'Malan's Keats must conquer an audience that does not possess a substantive cultural orientation; he must accomplish a task that at times seems surely as difficult as counting the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin: engaging a middle-schooler. ... Malan's account of Keats offers many careful touches. ... The inclusion of all of Keats's friends reinforces the Keats that emerges from Malan's pages: a young man whose talent and charisma draw others to him. ... Rebel Angel is not the usual juvenile biographical novel: there are a number of innovations. ... Ms Jakubisin's comment perhaps says it all: Malan writes with the "tenderness" that Keats deserves.'

- Keats-Shelley Journal Volume LV (Keats-Shelley Association of America, Inc., New York, 2006, pp. 231-3)


Monday, 8 January 2007

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