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Ten Literary Crushes : The Romantic and Byronic Heroes That Make Us Swoon

On Twitter, I came across this adorably fun blog HERE (that I totally recommend) about Sharon Sant’s Five TV Boyfriends. Instantly, I knew I had to do something just as fun, particularly after seeing Austenland about the Mr. Darcy obsessed Jane. So in similar fashion, I am sharing ten of my literary crushes with you.


Now, if I had done this list when I was a teenager, it would have come out a little differently. I probably would have mentioned Laurie in Little Women (though still true), Adam in The Secret Circle, a character from Sweet Valley High (not Todd), or even Damon from The Vampire Diaries (literary version in this instance). But taste and even age of the characters definitely change over the years (of course discovering Jane Austen at 18 didn’t hurt either). Whatever the case, I have always found myself crushing over many great literary characters in the name of fun: for as Jane in Austenland (the movie) claims: “I’m single because apparently, the only good men are fictional.”

The Ten Literary Crushes:

1. Captain Wentworth (Persuasion)
Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth
Photo: ITV

As much as I love Mr. Darcy, Captain Wentworth is my number one Jane Austen hero. I mean, how can I list all the reasons I love him? As soon as he returns into Anne’s life, he may be kind of cold (she did scorn him after all), but Captain Wentworth remains focused and constant, loving none but her. And that to me is ultimately romantic, the idea that even after years of separation, he remained true in his heart. Captain Wentworth is also the most passionate of Jane Austen heroes, while witty and intelligent at the same time.

2. Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre)
Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester
Photo: BBC

Mr. Rochester may have had a lot of issues (like locking his wife up in the attic and attempting to commit bigamy), but he had a heart of gold and his longing for love in the center of his loneliness just makes me love him. He is the bad boy that finds redemption because of love. How could I not have a crush on that? His sense of humor and cynical sarcasm likewise make me smile. Finally, he too like Captain Wentworth stays focused and devoted to love, with a soul connection so deep that he can call out to Jane and she can hear him. That type of connection always captivates me in literature. Plus, I think rugged and broad shoulders are way more striking than a pretty boy with a Grecian profile.

3. Faramir (Lord of the Rings)
Literary Men _ Faramir
David Wenham as Faramir Photo: New Line Productions

While I also adore film Faramir, I love the book version even more. The reason I have a huge crush on him is because his character has some of the best integrity and goodness I have ever read in a book. He is self-sacrificing for love (to get his father’s attention) but he is also incorruptible and brave. Faramir is the one character that is never tempted by the One Ring. He chooses to follow his heart and moral compass instead, and that (to me) is attractive

4. Gilbert Blythe (Anne of Green Gables)
Jonathan Crombie as Gilbert Blythe
Photo: Sullivan Entertainment

Intelligence in a guy never ceases to be sexy and that is one of my main reasons for having a huge crush on Gilbert ever since I was a little girl (it didn’t hurt that Jonathan Crombie played him to perfection in the miniseries). He loves to debate and is clever. He also appreciates intelligence in a woman (and that is never a bad trait in my book). Gilbert even becomes a doctor. But even more than intelligence and ambition, Gilbert becomes patient and self-sacrificing in the name of love, giving up his Avonlea School to Anne after Matthew dies. That is true romance.

5. Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice)
Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy Photo: BBC
Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy
Photo: BBC

I obviously could not have this type of list and not include Mr. Darcy. While he may have been intolerably rude and snobbish at first (yes I too would have had a hard time forgiving him after that slight at the dance), he loves Elizabeth enough to go against the wishes of his Aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh and marry her. Mr. Darcy also reveals the strength of character in the loyalty he has for his friends and family. His devotion to his sister is truly a great selling point for both Elizabeth and me. But what cements my crush on Mr. Darcy to stone is the actions he took to protect Elizabeth’s family from ruin all for Elizabeth. He didn’t do it for admiration either or pompous praise. No, he did it secretly. Oh, and let us not forget Pemberley.

6. Maxim de Winter (Rebecca)
Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter Photo: 20th Century Fox

Every once in a while, I can’t help but have a huge literary crush on one of the mysterious guys in literature because they just don’t bore me. Maxim, while intense, is also the epitome of a Gothic and Byronic Hero. There is always a sense of some kind of ominous danger that surrounds his aura that is quite frankly exciting to read.

7. Mr. Nobley or Henry Jenkins (Austenland)
J.J. Feild as Mr. Nobley
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

I wanted to include a couple modern choices on this list so I decided on the dashing Mr. Nobley (or Henry Jenkins as is his real name) as a recent crush from Shannon Hale’s Austenland (so spoilers). I love Mr. Nobley because he is the epitome of a modern day Austen hero. I like his quiet, brooding demeanor. He may have been hurt in love, but he allows it in again with Jane. But what I love most about Mr. Nobley (or Henry Jenkins) is that he isn’t into flings (me either) and is in it with Jane, as he says “forever.”

8. Eric Northman (The Southern Vampire Mysteries)
Alexander Skarsgård as Eric Northman
Photo: HBO

This is a strange one to list because I find the Sookie Stackhouse books to be entertaining but a little more explicit than I tend to usually read. Nevertheless, what hooked me to these vampire mystery books was the Viking vampire Eric (didn’t hurt that I imagined Alexander Skarsgård while reading). He is over 1,000 years old, cold, ruthless, cunning (like when he tricks Sookie to drink his blood in order to create a connection between the two of them), but he also has a joy for living, an entertaining sense of humor in his arrogant, yet cunning behavior that never bored me, and always will do anything for Sookie’s well-being (like paying for her paved driveway). In real life, I would most likely run screaming from this murderous vampire (though the same cannot be said for some TV vampires like Mick St. John) but since this is merely a literary crush, I will continue to crush away on this blond hair, blue-eyed Viking. Oh, and the less said about the ending of the series the better…

9. Nicholas Nickleby (Nicholas Nickleby)
Charlie Hunnam as Nicholas Nickelby Photo: MGM
Charlie Hunnam as Nicholas Nickleby
Photo: MGM

While Nicholas does indeed have some flaws (such as a violent temper), I love his sincere and intense devotion for friends and family. He always tries to do the right thing and is always honest. The way he fights for those he loves is truly what makes me have a huge literary crush on him. I love his righteous indignation against establishments that are morally wrong. I’d marry this guy any day of the week.

10. John Thornton (North and South)
Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton
Photo: BBC

I discovered this delicious literary character after watching the fabulous adaptation of the book back in 2004. I knew I had to read it instantly and so I did, Thornton quickly joining my top list of literary crushes. John Thornton is a lot like Mr. Darcy but is a little rougher around the edges (and a little more passionate) with several swoon-worthy scenes including saving Margaret from a mob (I still cannot understand why Mr. Thornton carrying Margaret was cut from the film adaptation). Aside from Mr. Thornton’s Darcy like characteristics, he also has enough respect for his workers to not risk his business and their jobs in the process. Trust me, if you haven’t already read this book by Elizabeth Gaskell, you should.

There are several more literary crushes I could list (these are just ten) such as Aragorn, Remus Lupin, the rest of the Jane Austen heroes, etc. but then the list would seem endless!

So how about everyone else? Who are your literary crushes? Sound off below…

Featured Image Credit: Pride and Prejudice/BBC

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By on September 22nd, 2013

About Autumn Topping

In second grade, Autumn wrote her first story, “The Spinach Monster,” and hasn't stopped writing since. Intrigued by the tales her grandmother told of vampires, witches, and ghosts as a girl, she's always been drawn to the fantastic. Later, Autumn studied English and Creative Writing (continuing her love for classic literature and everything old-fashioned) and graduated with an MA in Children’s Literature and an MS in Library & Information Science from Simmons College. Currently, she co-runs this lovely site and works as a YA Librarian.

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12 thoughts on “Ten Literary Crushes : The Romantic and Byronic Heroes That Make Us Swoon”

  1. Gilbert Blythe! Swoon! He is my ultimate crush, along with Laurie from Little Women.

    And I didn’t know that about Faramir, that he was the only one who wasn’t swayed by the ring. Interesting.

    • Laurie is definitely still one of my crushes but Gilbert definitely beats him for me.

      And I think the point of Faramir was to show that he was wiser than his brother, that he would never use the ring for glory. It makes for an interesting contrast.

  2. So many wonderful wonderful men. Mr. Rochester was always my favorite with Faramir a very close second but, really, they all melt my chocolate. 🙂

    I love all these articles. They are such great reads. Thanks for this great website!

  3. I must agree, although I’m not into vampire stuff and I’ve not seen the Nicholas Nickleby pictured, but the one with James D’Arcy..love it..I have not seen two others (Rebecca and Austenland). So, mine are: Faramir, Rowan(from Linda Windsor’s Marie), Nathaniel Eaton(from The Witch of Blackbird Pond),…..Mr. Thornton, Captain Wentworth, John Harmon alias John Rokesmith alias Julius Handford from Dicken’s Our Mutual Friend..;) , Gilbert Blythe, Evan Parker(from Judith Pella’s Sister’s Choice ..and probably more that I cannot remember because I’ve read so many books!..lol 🙂

    • Nathaniel Eaton would have definitely made my list as a teenager. Love him and that book. So glad to see someone else recognize it. I’ve never heard of Evan Parker or Rowan. Will have to check those books out.

  4. Yep nodding my head while reading… I have one REALLY bizarre addition but 1 of my biggest literary crushes is Tyrion Lannister from the ice & fire series. Can’t help it!

  5. This is a fabulous list! There is some serious hot stuff here. Thanks for the mention too. It’s made me think it might be time for another of my own! 🙂

  6. Literary crushes can ruin a girl for IRL crushes. I feel so set up! I’m a woman now ‘of a certain age’ and I still fall for these types, over and over again. I realize these aren’t the swoon-worthy men of Victorian area romance, but I fell hard for The Man From Snowy River. When I got my grandchildren hooked on Maggie Stievfater, I was already hooked a bit on Gansy. More because he reminded me of a lifelong high school crush, I suspect. I really need to stay away from romance novels and YA fiction. It just makes IRL Soooo disappointing. 😉 (Read on, girls! Hope springs eternal. Sigh.) BTW in one of the novels I wrote (and haven’t done anything with) my hero is Victorian, but he found a way to become immortal, waiting for his love to return. In the ‘in between’, she ‘forgot’ and didn’t return until modern times. He shows up and she’s in her 50s–he;s still early 30s. But he still uses those Victorian charms to try to win her back. Sigh. Will she or won’t she succumb and become immortal with him now that she is older and has more to lose? Ah, the power of the Victorian gentleman…


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