Mary Renault

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Mary Renault (4 September 1905 – 13 December 1983) was the author of a number of prominent works of gay fiction, including The Charioteer, set during World War 2, and a trilogy of historical fiction novels about Alexander the Great and Hephaestion.

Renault was a lesbian and lived with her partner, Julie Mullard, from the 1930s until her death in 1983.

Works

Contemporary fiction

  • Purposes of Love (US title: Promise of Love) (1939)
  • Kind Are Her Answers (1940)
  • The Friendly Young Ladies (US title: The Middle Mist) (1944)
  • Return to Night (1947)
  • The North Face (1948)
  • The Charioteer (1953)

Historical novels

Non-fiction

  • The Nature of Alexander (1975)
  • The Lion in the Gateway: The Heroic Battles of the Greeks and Persians at Marathon, Salamis, and Thermopylae (1964)

Impact on the LGBT Community

Many of Renault's novels were bestsellers within the LGBT community and there are many moving descriptions of how they affected young gay men in particular. For example:

Reading Renault’s books, I felt a shock of recognition. The silent watching of other boys, the endless strategizing about how to get their attention, the fantasies of finding a boy to love, and be loved by, "best": all this was agonizingly familiar. I knew something about pothos [longing], and thought of the humiliating lengths to which it could drive me—the memorizing of certain boys' class schedules or bus routes, the covert shuffling of locker assignments. I was astonished, halfway through "Fire from Heaven," to find that this kind of thing had always been happening. Until that moment, I had never seen my secret feelings reflected anywhere. Pop music meant nothing to me, since all the songs were about boys wanting girls or girls wanting boys; neither did the Y.A. novels I’d read, for the same reason. Television was a desert. ("Will & Grace" was twenty-five years in the future.) Now, in a novel about people from another place and time, it was as if I had found a picture of myself.[1]

Related Links

References

  1. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/01/07/the-american-boy


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