Often colourful, occasionally tragic, but all in some way extraordinary, these life stories reflect – and have sometimes helped to shape – contemporary attitudes towards same-sex intimacy.
The exploits of the famous never cease to captivate our imaginations – rulers, artists, explorers, and all the great personalities of history. Yet many quieter lives also have the ability to impress, to teach us something about the remarkable qualities of human nature.
In this book, Robert Aldrich presents a fascinating portrait of gay men and women throughout history that reveals the full diversity of gay lives as lived in their times. He gives a voice to more than eighty people from every major continent and from all walks of life, from poets, philosophers and artists, to saints, gangsters and activists.
Alongside such celebrated names as Michelangelo, Frederick the Great and Harvey Milk are lesser-known but no less surprising individuals: two men of ancient Egypt whose lives were closely linked over four thousand years ago; a Renaissance nun who blurred the boundaries between spiritual and physical love; a flamboyant maharaja, who liked to have his way with retainers; and ‘Aimée’ and ‘Jaguar’, whose love defied the death camps of wartime Germany.
Robert Aldrich is Professor of European History at the University of Sydney. He is the author of The Seduction of the Mediterranean and Colonialism and Homosexuality, and has edited Gay Life and Culture: A World History and The Age of Empires.
Thames & Hudson 2012