The critical evaluation of John Keats has almost always involved issues of vulgarity, effeminacy, and puerility. Keats has constantly been re-created in the discourse of literary critics who confronted, interpreted, and negotiated the "effeminate" characteristics that they associated with Keats typified in Byron`s telling reference to him as "Johnny" Keats. The male subjectivity that critics assumed of the true poet and the effeminate traits of Keat`s person and poetry seemed mutually incompatible and had to be resolved. I argue that both the favorable and the hostile evaluations of Keats and his works depended on how successfully one accommodated or repudiated his effeminacy. In contemporary evaluations Keats never escaped references to his "mawkishness" and to the "Cockney," a term dissonant with the normative masculinity of the hegemonic class. Even when Keats`s fame was consolidated in Victorian England, the image of Keats as a poet of sensuality and sensation (not of thoughts), of promises (not of accomplishments), and of effeminacy (not of respectable masculine subjectivity) persisted. Critics had to confront the overwhelming presence of "Johnny Keats" either to denigrate or praise him. Whether they praised or denigrated him, critics wanted to kill the figure of "Johnny Keats" because an effeminate poet could not be part of the tradition of English poetry.