---- brief excerpts from a literary appreciation by British historian Bettany Hughes at The Telegraph (UK), 25 May 2015. The classical fiction of Mary Renault opened Bettany Hughes’s eyes to the hardcore, drug-saturated sensuality of the ancient world :-
'Renault’s novels are 'a kind of dance with antiquity’. As a teenager, on bone-chilling English beaches, I had a guilty pleasure. Wrapped in towels and sheltering behind wind-worn breakwaters, I smuggled on to the shingle something that would transport me elsewhere, where I would be warmed by a breeze, rushed upon by monsters and demons, protected by flawed boy-kings and kohl-eyed high priestesses.
Eileen Mary Challans was born in 1905, the first, big-boned child of unhappy parents in a privet-proud east London suburb. .... her nursing profession also offered Renault a lifelong love: Julie Mullard, the woman with whom she would move to South Africa in 1949 and live in a “partyish” beach house called Delos until she died.
That love – or rather, the possibility of homo-eroticism and of simply being different – is a pulsing bass note for Renault’s novels. It’s arguably best expressed in the historical series: two Theseus novels, four inspired by Alexander the Great, two based in fifth-century Greece and one in the fourth, which she started to write when just shy of 50. Her quiet bravery in making same-sex love a charismatic theme is bold and dignified. For millions, including my juvenile self, Renault enlivened other ways of being. .... '
---- see more of Bettany Hughes' biographical article about 'Mary Renault' at :-
---- Similar to others mentioned in Bettany's essay, your host George Gardiner recalls on his first visit to Athens at the age of 23 visiting all the major historical sites & museums accompanied by a paperback copy of Renault's "The Last of the Wine" stuffed under one arm to give added flavor to the excursion. I cannot claim to have read all of Renault's many works, but I have certainly consumed the major homo-erotic themed works. In fact my own humble 'The Hadrian Enigma' has a dedication-page devoting the work to "M. R." due to Ms. Renault's powerful literary influence.