Literary Men

North and South Mini-Series starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe

I submit that most of us have at least a few fictional crushes on literary men! Some favorites may range from the Austen heroes and other characters from classic literature to literary men from fantasy, modern literature and even books that we read when we were younger (I maintain that these characters have aged with me). We all could probably come up with a list of such characters if we really thought about it, and here is mine (so this list is much more personal than is typical). When reading, you find some literary men who are swoon-worthy, and I have selected ten of the men in literature that I consider to be the most so. This is, of course, highly subjective, so please share your own list in the comments! Also, check out Autumn’s own ten literary crushes!

RELATED | Ten Literary Crushes

Ten Literary Men That Make Me Swoon

#10: Mark Darcy from Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary

Literary Men - Mark Darcy

(Colin Firth) in Bridget Jones’s Diary: The Edge of Reason. Photo: Miramax

With Mark Darcy, I wonder how much of his inclusion in this list was because of Colin Firth’s portrayal in the films. Fun fact: the character of Mark Darcy was actually based off of Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the A&E Pride and Prejudice, so the fact that Colin Firth plays Mark Darcy as well is hilarious to me!

Mark Darcy is described by Bridget as very good looking and a respected lawyer. He and Bridget butt heads over a variety of things, and he is very much a modern era Mr. Darcy. Mark Darcy is a great example of someone who seems to be a horrible snob but is actually a really genuine and sweet guy. He tracks down Bridget’s mother’s lover (it’s a long story) because he understands that the situation hurts Bridget. Plus, in regard to his relationship with Bridget, he likes her, despite all of her quirks (just as she is, as it were).

#9: Peeta Mellark from Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” Series

Literary Men - Peeta

Peeta and Katniss in Mockingjay Part 2.
Photo: Lionsgate

Peeta is one of those characters that I just couldn’t help but like. He seems to be just a genuinely nice person who doesn’t let the trauma he has experienced in his past make him cruel to people. In the first book, Peeta takes care of Haymitch and offers to help Katniss. After this, she reflects that Peeta is kind and that that is dangerous to her because kind people can slip through her defenses (which he does). Peeta has a very likable quality to him that, despite the fact that he is reaped twice and suffers some truly horrific things throughout the trilogy, doesn’t really fade. In fact, when Katniss realizes that she loves Peeta, part of what makes her realize this is when she discovers that she and Gale have too much in common; they’re both angry. Peeta is full of hope, joy and determination, making him both perfect for Katniss and deserving of a spot on this list.

#8: Henry Tilney from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey

J.J. Feild as Mr. Tilney – Photo: ITV

Most every girl has her favorite Austen hero and Mr. Tilney is mine (he just beats out Captain Wentworth). Northanger Abbey is a special book to me because it was the first Jane Austen book that I read and liked, opening the door to other classics that I now love. Part of the appeal is Mr. Tilney; he is a witty character that is also very real and open.

Austen describes him as having “pleasing manners and good sense,” high praise indeed (Austen 1985:245)! Although he and Catherine did fight and have disagreements, nothing he said was really out of line and when he discovers what his father has done toward the end of the novel, he risks being disinherited to make amends (and then waits until he can provide for his wife before marrying her). Witty, open, honest and just a stand-up guy, Mr. Tilney is number eight.

#7: Almanzo Wilder from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” Series

Literary Men

Almanzo Wilder Photo: From Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain

When I read the “Little House on the Prairie” series for the first time, I remember being less thrilled with Farmer Boy, because I didn’t know or care about the characters as much as Laura and her family. Research made later rereads more fun and put the characters into context for later books, including that Almanzo Wilder might be a cheater since he was an actual person. But since I first encountered him in fiction, I’m putting him on here anyway.

In fiction that is, Almanzo is another of those stand-up men. During the Long Winter, he braves the cold and almost dies to bring back wheat to a starving town, a risk he takes because he’s single and he doesn’t want a man with a wife and kids to go out there. He begins courting Laura by walking her home from church and drives her home on the weekends when she would have otherwise been trapped in a miserable situation at her job. Even when she tells him that she won’t go driving with him after her contract is up, he still drives to get her, saying “What do you take me for? Do you think I’m the kind of fellow that’d leave you out there…when you’re so homesick, just because there’s nothing in it for me?” (Wilder 1981:77). Of course, she does end up going out with him again, and the rest is history. Almanzo trusts Laura, he lets her drive the horses he’s trying to break and builds a house designed specifically for her. Basically, Laura and Almanzo Wilder are adorable, both in fiction and real life. Since every girl deserves an Almanzo, he’s a great choice for number seven.

#6: Ron Weasley from JK Rowling’s “Harry Potter” Series

Literary Men - Ron Wasley

Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley in Deathly Hallows Part 1. Photo: Warner Brothers

I freely admit that I love Ron Weasley as a character, and I was a big fan of the Ron/Hermione pairing! Ron is awesome to me because, in the books, he is really a lot smarter than everyone gives him credit for (a lot of his great lines go to movie-Hermione, actually). He’s a brilliant tactician, beating the enchanted chess set when he was only 11, and he’s witty and intensely loyal. Although he can be insensitive and somewhat cruel at times, he always comes through for his family and friends.

Even when he’s jealous of Harry and not talking to him in book four, he still tries to help him with the first task, and when he is fighting with Hermione in the third book, he is mad because he thinks his beloved pet has been killed. Ron also shows character growth, particularly in his attitude toward house elves and SPEW, and is always doing things that terrify him because people he cares about are in danger. Sometimes, that just means watching out for Harry as he goes into the Forbidden Forest with him, but he also goes into the Chamber of Secrets to save his sister and dives into the frozen pool to save Harry. He also stayed at school over Christmas so that his best friend wouldn’t be alone, dug into hippogriff law when Hermione was overwhelmed by it, and his first reaction to hearing Draco Malfoy call someone he cared about a ‘mudblood’ was to teach him a lesson by cursing him to belch slugs. Loyal, smart and a character who can and does grow and change, Ron Weasley is definitely number six on this list.

#5: Red/Hugh from Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest

Literary Men - Red/Hugh

Daughter of the Forest Book Cover

This book is, to me, is an unsung classic, and the love story is part of what makes it so wonderful. Hugh of Harrowfield travels to the land of his enemies to find out what has happened to his brother Simon, and while there he finds Sorcha. Sorcha knows some of Simon’s story but has taken a vow of silence to save her brothers. Rather than force her to talk, Hugh, or Red, places her under his protection, caring for her until she finishes her task in exchange for information. They learn to communicate with each other and grow to trust each other, despite the hostility that Sorcha faces in Harrowfield.

In the face of that hostility and the fact that she is Irish and he is a Briton (therefore at war with each other), Red remains faithful to his promise, often going above and beyond what is expected of him to keep her safe and comfortable. As the novel progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that he cares deeply for her. I don’t want to spoil the ending of this book, but the brave, kind and patient Red is part of one of my favorite love stories ever written, so he is certainly on this list of swoon-worthy literary men.

#4: Gilbert Blythe from LM Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables” Series

Literary Men - Gilbert

Anne and Gilbert flirting! Photo: Sullivan Entertainment

Any list of Swoon-Worthy Literary Men made by a person of a certain age will probably include Gilbert Blythe. He’s the boy-next-door, smart (he’s a doctor who worked as a teacher to put himself through med school), driven and caring. I think part of what makes Gilbert so great is that he understands Anne, he gets that she can be too imaginative and prone to flights of fancy. Gilbert is a good match for her, because although he is imaginative as well, he is a bit more grounded and is able to ground her because of that.

Before they’re a couple, Gilbert is one of Anne’s closest friends and is able to use that to his advantage when other men try to court Anne; he’s always there and, therefore, has an advantage. Montgomery shows us flashes into Gilbert’s mind, and we know that he is crazy in love with Anne. Despite feeling she’ll never return his feelings, he is still a good friend, even sending her flowers for Convocation. The moment we realize that Gilbert has “got de turn,” the reader has confidence in a happy ending (Montgomery 1987: 288). Although I love the books where they are friends and Anne of the Island where Anne wakes up and finally realizes that she’s in love with Gilbert, I love the later books that showcase their banter and interactions as a couple. Charming, witty and just a solidly good guy, Gilbert Blythe was a shoo-in for this list.

#3: Nat Eaton from Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Literary Men - Nat Eaton

It’s been a while since I read this book, but I remember loving Nat Eaton. First, he’s a sailor, which I remember thinking sounded like an amazingly fun job. Nat is also great in that he befriends the outcasts, Kit, Hannah and Prudence, and helps them find each other. He stands up for his convictions, even when they’re unpopular, and uses his skills to help people; whether fixing Hannah’s roof or taking her away to a place where it’s safer to be a Quaker. Nat also talks to Kit. She is full of questions and confused in her new world, having moved from Barbados to Puritan New England. Kit doesn’t feel comfortable asking anyone else her questions, and Nat understands the culture shock she’s going through; answering her questions without sounding patronizing. He’s another character that is just a solidly nice guy who helps people who might not be able to help themselves while also having strong convictions and a love of what he does for a living.

#2: John Thornton from Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South

Literary Men - Mr. John Thornton

Mr. Thornton stares at Margaret from a distance from the adaptation of North and South. Photo: BBC

I’ll be honest, this one might be very affected by the amazing mini-series (I’m still reading this book), but John Thornton is one of those characters that I feel like is a stand-up guy and even though I’m still reading, I love his character. Although he seems harsh to Margaret and they don’t always get along, he does work to make things safe for his employees and in the miniseries, at least, he is afraid of doing anything that will put the mill or the payroll at risk. He protects his employees, looks after his family and protects Margaret as well. He realizes that he is in love with her when she saves his life during the strike and he feels he owes her his life. Mr. Thornton hires Higgins and later forms a good working relationship with his employees. He’s a hard-worker who is able to grow and adapt throughout the novel, a journey that I am enjoying reading about so far. Unless something major happens, he’ll probably stay at number two on this list.

#1: Faramir from JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

Literary Men _ Faramir

David Wenham as Faramir Photo: New Line Productions

While many people prefer the dashing King Aragorn, Captain Faramir is not only one of my favorite characters in the Lord of the Rings series, he is my number one literary crush (seriously, I have always had a thing for Faramir). Despite how it looked in the movies, Faramir is one of the only living beings in Middle Earth who was not tempted by the Ring. When he realizes what it is that Frodo and Sam have and where they are from, he spends a good chunk of his time mourning his brother, wishing that there was a way to save the city and people he cares for, and knowing that the Ring is not the way to do it.

He says that “I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory,” (Tolkien 1994:314). He understands that the Ring cannot be used for good, and that to try would destroy him and what he would be trying to protect. Faramir also has the ability to step down when necessary. He had the vision that sent his brother to Rivendell, and when Aragorn returns, he graciously steps down for the Return of the King. When he falls in love with Eowyn, he uses his influence to improve her life in the House of Healing and his soldiers love and respect him. One of them even is willing to risk death to save him in Return of the King. Faramir also spends time talking to and learning from Gandalf. He’s a character that inspires loyalty, gives loyalty, offers good advice and counsel, is always trying to learn and is, generally, a really solid character that doesn’t let his family problems affect how he treats others.

So, there you have it: Ten Literary Men Who Make Me Swoon. Writing this list pointed out to me that I really do have a type. All of the literary men who make me swoon have great personalities that enhance their good looks. No Byronic heroes for me in this top ten list; loyalty, wit, a polite manner and general nice-guy traits are, apparently, what I look for in my literary men.

What about you? Have you read all these books?

Who are some of the literary men who make you swoon?  Let me know in the comments!

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