Renaissance, Romantic, late Victorian).
For my first period, I chose the Restoration-Augustan Era, mostly because the professor of my graduate seminar, Dr. Singer, was gay -- or at least we thought he was. For my second period, I chose the Romantic Era (1770-1830), because the poets were young and cute, and their lives seemed informed by homosocial and homoerotic bonds. Later I discovered that several were gay in real life.
The top 13 gay or gay-subtext literary figures:
1. Hugh Walpole (1717-1797), who built a pseudo-Medieval castle,
Strawberry Hill, to entertain the A-list gays of the early Romantic
2. and 3. The Ladies of Llangollen, Eleanor Charlotte Butler
(1739-1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1831), who eloped, set up
housekeeping, and entertained many of the artistic and literary greats
of the era.
5. William Blake (1757-1822), who advocated for "free love" and illustrated
his poetry with lovingly-detailed, super-muscular male nudes
6. William Beckford (1760-1844), who built his own pseudo-Medieval
castle, Lansdowne Tower, where he kept his huge art collection.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and 8. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
(1772-1834), who roomed together and walked across England together (in
the company of William's sister Dorothy).In Pandaemonium (2000), they are played by John Hannah and Linus Roach.
10. Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), who cohabitated with Byron and wrote Adonais to mourn the death of the beautiful young poet John Keats (check out the beefcake in the Star Trek episode "Who Mourns for Adonais". Besides, his wife, Mary Shelley, wrote Frankenstein. In Frankenstein Unbound (1990), a scientist goes back in time to meet Shelley (gay performer Michael Hutchence, top photo) and the real Victor Frankenstein (Raul Julia).
11. Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873), who introduced the gay-coded Dandy to England.
12. John Keats (1795-1821), whose love for Charles Armitage Brown overwhelmed his love for Fanny Brawne (which was never consummated), and wrote of pure beauty much more often than the beauty of women. In Bright Star (2009), which makes the romantic triangle overt, Keats is played by gay actor Ben Whishaw (left), and Brown by Paul Schneider.
13. Gay artist Henry Fuseli.
Frankenstein, vampires, gay subtexts, and beefcake. What's not to like?