The best books featuring historical gay heroes

Who am I?

I’ve read a lot of books that feature gay characters. These characters often partition into two main groups: angsty men who are victims of oppression or illness, or camp stereotypes who provide the light relief. I prefer to read about heroes who happen to be gay. That’s why I started writing novels. My recent books are historical novels inspired by real gay heroes. The feedback I get from readers indicates that there are a lot of people who want the same as I do.


I wrote...

A Death in Berlin

By David C. Dawson,

Book cover of A Death in Berlin

What is my book about?

Berlin 1933: When the parties stop...the dying begins

The city that’s been a beacon of liberation during the 1920s is about to become a city of deadly oppression. Simon Sampson, the BBC’s first foreign correspondent, is recruited by British intelligence services. When he is ordered to spy on an old college friend, his loyalties are brought into question. Who are his real enemies? And how much can he trust his masters? This is the second in the Simon Sampson mystery series. The first, A Death in Bloomsbury, was hailed as "a good old-fashioned John Buchan-esque mystery reworked for the twenty-first century."

The books I picked & why

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The Glamour Boys: The Secret Story of the Rebels who Fought for Britain to Defeat Hitler

By Chris Bryant,

Book cover of The Glamour Boys: The Secret Story of the Rebels who Fought for Britain to Defeat Hitler

Why this book?

The untold true story of how a group of gay MPs lobbied the British government to stop its policy of appeasing Hitler in the run up to WWII. It’s a book about patriotic heroes who are criminals in their own land because of their sexuality. It moved me deeply and inspired my own fictional thriller set in Berlin in 1933.

The Glamour Boys: The Secret Story of the Rebels who Fought for Britain to Defeat Hitler

By Chris Bryant,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Glamour Boys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A STORY OF UNSUNG BRAVERY AT A DEFINING MOMENT IN BRITAIN'S HISTORY

'Superb' Stephen Fry
'Thrillingly told' Dan Jones
'Fascinating' Neil MacGregor
'Astonishing' Peter Frankopan

We like to think we know the story of how Britain went to war with Germany in 1939, but there is one chapter that has never been told. In the early 1930s, a group of young, queer British MPs visited Berlin on a series of trips that would change the course of the Second World War.

Having witnessed the Nazis' brutality first-hand, these men were some of the first to warn Britain about Hitler, repeatedly…

The Song of Achilles

By Madeline Miller,

Book cover of The Song of Achilles

Why this book?

Too many novels featuring same-sex relationships are one-dimensional and focus purely on the titillation of the sexual relationship. Miller’s retelling of the love between Achilles and Patroclus describes a loving relationship with all its foibles and eccentricities. Moreover it’s the story of one of the great heroes of the Greek myths. 

The Song of Achilles

By Madeline Miller,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked The Song of Achilles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**OVER 1.5 MILLION COPIES SOLD**
**A 10th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION, FEATURING A NEW FOREWORD BY THE AUTHOR**

WINNER OF THE ORANGE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION
THE INTERNATIONAL SENSATION
A SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

'Captivating' DONNA TARTT
'I loved it' J K ROWLING
'Ravishingly vivid' EMMA DONOGHUE

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms…

The Line of Beauty

By Alan Hollinghurst,

Book cover of The Line of Beauty

Why this book?

This book affected me very deeply because it’s set in the 80s and 90s when I was in my twenties and thirties. It describes with astonishing accuracy the political cruelty that abounded at that time. For me, the real hero of the book is Leo. He’s not only gay but also Black which makes him a double target for the prejudice of the time. The way he tackles it head on in the book is breathtaking.

The Line of Beauty

By Alan Hollinghurst,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Line of Beauty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1983, 20-year-old Nick Guest moves into an attic room in the Notting Hill home of the Feddens: Tory MP Gerald, his wealthy wife Rachel, and their two children, Toby - whom Nick had idolized at Oxford - and Catherine, always standing at a critical angle to the family and its assumptions and ambitions.

As the Thatcher boom-years unfold, Nick, an innocent in the worlds of politics and money, finds his life altered by the rising fortunes of the glamorous family he is entangled with. Two vividly contrasting love-affairs, with a young black clerk and a Lebanese…


Alan Turing: The Enigma

By Andrew Hodges,

Book cover of Alan Turing: The Enigma

Why this book?

A deeply personal choice because I also studied mathematics at university, although I don’t have even a millionth of Turing’s talent. His story is a tragedy. A man who saved thousands of lives, with both his astonishing powers of analysis and invention and his sheer bloody-mindedness in the face of blinkered bureaucracy. And yet after the war he was criminalised for his sexuality.

Alan Turing: The Enigma

By Andrew Hodges,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Alan Turing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER The official book behind the Academy Award-winning film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades--all before his suicide at age forty-one. This New York Times-bestselling biography of the founder of computer science, with a new preface by the author that addresses Turing's royal pardon in 2013, is the definitive account of an extraordinary mind and life. Capturing both the inner…

Love from the Pink Palace: Memories of Love, Loss and Cabaret through the AIDS Crisis

By Jill Nalder,

Book cover of Love from the Pink Palace: Memories of Love, Loss and Cabaret through the AIDS Crisis

Why this book?

Jill Nalder is one of the great heroes of the AIDS crisis in eighties Britain. Her story features in the TV series It’s A Sin. This is her memoir and it’s an uplifting and heartbreaking read. Jill is one of those miraculous allies for gay men who fought to get more information about AIDS distributed more widely. It’s thanks to people like her that AIDS is no longer a death sentence.

Love from the Pink Palace: Memories of Love, Loss and Cabaret through the AIDS Crisis

By Jill Nalder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Love from the Pink Palace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I read the book in one go. I laughed and cried like a baby, and was transported back to a time of innocence, clouded by the enormity of the harsh reality . . . Just amazing' CATHERINE ZETA JONES

'As it happens, I was also a Jill in the eighties - but not half as good a Jill as real Jill' DAWN FRENCH

'Jill met the crisis head on . . . She held the hands of so many men. She lost them, and remembered them, and somehow kept going' RUSSELL T DAVIES

A heartbreaking, life-affirming memoir of love, loss…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in gay topics and characters, HIV/AIDS, and mathematicians?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about gay topics and characters, HIV/AIDS, and mathematicians.

Gay Topics And Characters Explore 98 books about gay topics and characters
HIV/AIDS Explore 31 books about HIV/AIDS
Mathematicians Explore 30 books about mathematicians

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Our Man in New York, The Hut Six Story, and Delusions of Intelligence if you like this list.