100 Heroes: André Gide

The gay man who won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

100 Heroes: André Gide

André Gide was an author. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1947.

Known for his fiction as well as his autobiographical works, Gide exposes to public view the conflict and eventual reconciliation of the two sides of his personality - characterised by a Protestant austerity and a transgressive sexual adventurousness, respectively.

Gide's work can be seen as an investigation of freedom and empowerment in the face of moralistic and puritanical constraints, and centres on his continuous effort to achieve intellectual honesty.

His self-exploratory texts reflect his search of how to be fully oneself, including owning one's sexual nature, without at the same time betraying one's values.

Early life

Gide was born in Paris in 1869.

He grew up in relative isolation in Normandy.

A prolific writer from a young age, Gide published his first novel - The Notebooks of André Walter - at the age of twenty-one.

Personal life

In 1893 and 1894, Gide travelled in Northern Africa, and it was there that he came to accept his attraction to boys.

He befriended Oscar Wilde in Paris, and in 1895 Gide and Wilde met in Algiers. Wilde had the impression that he had introduced Gide to homosexuality, but, in fact, Gide had already discovered this on his own.

In 1916, Marc Allégret became Gide's lover. Gide was 47, Allégret was 15.

Gide's sexual encounters are extensively documented in his journals and letters.

Gide died in Paris in 1951.


In 1947, Gide received the Nobel Prize in Literature "for his comprehensive and artistically significant writings, in which human problems and conditions have been presented with a fearless love of truth and keen psychological insight".

The Catholic Church placed his works on the Index of Forbidden Books in 1952.


Gide considered his novel Corydon to be his most important work.

Consisting of four Socratic dialogues on homosexuality, the name of the book comes from Virgil's pederastic character Corydon.

Although parts of the text were printed from 1911, it was first published in its entirety in 1924.

The dialogues use evidence from naturalists, historians, poets, and philosophers in order to back up Gide's argument that homosexuality is natural and is not unnatural.

Gide documents homosexuality's cultural and artistic influence on civilisations such as Periclean Greece, Renaissance Italy and Elizabethan England.

Follow Gareth Johnson on Twitter