John Keats statue on Guy’s Campus given the gift of speech

Location: King's College London Guy's Campus

December 16, 2016 - October 1, 2017


Born in Moorgate in 1795, surgeon-apothecary turned poet, John Keats, trained at Guy’s Hospital. A statue of Keats, which sits on a bench on King’s College London’s Guy’s Campus in a garden overlooked by Science Gallery London, became the subject for the MOUTHY creative writing competition: Give Keats a Voice!

Out of many excellent entries, the judging panel selected Tom Jordan’s monologue. Revealing Keats’ secret reasons for giving up his medical career to become a poet, as well as appealing to passers-by for help with his latest poem, Tom’s script is reflective and witty by turns. Reflecting on his muse, Tom said: “I didn’t know Keats’ backstory – that he trained to be a surgeon, and had these connections with such a fantastic hospital – and I thought, what an incredibly courageous thing to have done, leaving that behind!”

Carl Stone, the voice of the Keats statue agreed: “It’s fantastic to be able to give a voice to someone who lost his so early. His story of giving up medicine to become a writer is inspiring – like the risk you take to become an actor! And to tell Tom’s story, of a Keats I didn’t know, was a pleasure.”

Tom Jordan is a professional writer and editor and a part-time actor. After doing his fair share of globe-trotting, he’s now living back in his native Yorkshire, aiming, like Keats, to focus on his creative endeavours, which include fiction, rhyme and children’s media projects.

Carl Stone is a recent graduate from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. He was selected as one of only two students from the School to take part in the annual Wannamaker Festival at the Globe Theatre in London. Since graduating, Carl has worked in TV, recently playing H. G. Wells for a BBC documentary Future Tense – The Story of HG Wells, and is also writing a sitcom based around the lives of four young actors.

The Keats statue is one of three Guy’s Campus statues that have been given a voice by Talking Statues. Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine, has been voiced by Lancashire comedian Dave Spikey, who began his career as a biomedical scientist before turning his talents to comedy. Artist Daniel Silver’s Boat, a sculpture inspired by the remains of a Roman boat that lies underneath the foundations of the new Cancer Centre on the Guy’s Campus, is voiced by yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur who founded the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust to help young people recovering from cancer or leukemia to regain their confidence through sailing.

Members of the public are invited to visit the Guy’s Campus to hear the statues speak for themselves. To activate the statues’ voices, simply swipe your phone on the QR-coded plaque next to each statue. There is no cost to the user and the statues’ voices will be live until autumn 2017.

The Talking Statue of John Keats was commissioned by Science Gallery at King’s College London as part of MOUTHY: INTO THE ORIFICE and produced by Sing London. The statue is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity art and heritage collection.