Keats and Sexuality

Keats once remarked that women were. "As children to whom I would rather give a Sugar Plum than my time."
Keats was often frustrated by what he saw as the frivolity and inconsistency of women. His letters show that he often felt awkward in the presence of young women and preferred male company. He once commented that he did not write his poetry for women. These feelings were combined with a desire to idolise and idealise women. The female figures in his poems are either Goddesses or temptresses.

  • Sex is often represented as a combination of pleasure and pain.
  • Many of the early poems show a frustrated sexuality.
  • Critics claimed his poems were unsuitable for women, because they contained erotic, vulgar passages. Fanny Brawne
  • Keats met Fanny Brawne in the September of 1818.
  • He was 23 and she was 18.
  • No letters exist from the early part of their relationship and it appears that Keats did not become obsessed with her until the following year.
  • We know very little about Fanny - her letters were buried with Keats, so we only see the relationship through his eyes.
  • The love letters he wrote to Fanny are intense and passionate.
  • He views love as an illness that only Fanny, as the physician, can cure.
  • Although he idealises Fanny, the letters are tinged with threats and thoughts of death. He referred to her as a 'Minx' in a letter to his brother.
  • It appears the relationship was never consummated, although they were engaged.
  • Keats had to become financially stable before he could marry Fanny
  • he longed to marry her, but he also feared that a domestic life would not inspire his poetry.


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