The Best Beards in Literature

By Ashleigh Kerr

I am not ashamed to admit that I suffer from a duplexity of sorts; I love books, and I love beards. I love them equally; each can stand alone, treasured, perhaps fondled and certainly admired up close and from afar. However, when combined, books and beards create a grand hairy-page-turning superpower that can invoke respect and awe, even from those of you who aren’t literate-follicular fetishists like me. 


Sexy Beards

Ah… the manly, wild beard. Their wearers are masculine, roguish, confident and just plain sexy.


Image by Martina Arend

Jamie Fraser – Outlander

This ginger-tinged beard grows on a Scotsman who will do anything to protect his beloved Claire. James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser is a landowning soldier, well-educated and skilled at learning languages.  Both his hair and beard are described as auburn, amber, roan, cinnabar, rufous, copper, cinnamon, red and gold. While this tall, horse-riding sword-fighter loves and fiercely protects his woman, it is hard for a red-blooded reader not to objectify him when he is in full dominance: “I mean to make ye call me ‘Master,’ Sassenach.” His soft voice was a threat of revenge for the agonies of the last minutes. “I mean to make you mine…” Great Scott!Khal Drogo.jpg

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Khal Drogo – Game of Thrones

Ok – I’ll admit that I’m cheating here. Khal Drogo is technically described as having a long, drooping mustache (but no beard), but his character’s association with hair earns him extra credit. Fans of the series will know that Drogo abides by the customs of the Dothraki; they braid their hair and do not cut it unless they are defeated in battle. As Drogo is one of the few Dothraki warlords who has never been defeated, his long braid reaches all the way to his thighs. Now pair this hairiness with his tan, muscular frame and alpha-dominance. Hair equals power, which is a custom I can certainly get behind.

Mystical Beards

These beards sprout on older, often fantastical characters. While they may not represent sex to most (hey, no judgment here…) they can symbolize wisdom and magical prowess.


Image by Cris Delara

Gandalf – Lord of the Rings

Be it gray or white, Gandalf’s beard makes him a “holy figure.” Gandalf’s “sweeping silver” beard goes below his waist and he looks like “some wise king of ancient legend.” I once read that if being clean-shaven means social civility, being unshaven must mean Gandalf has rejected civilization for his own meditation and solitude. He is focussed on his mission and puts these needs first. If his beard is also a sign of chastity, he is putting his wisdom and purpose before the needs of his own body. Only a man with a beard would truly be that noble, surely?


Image by Tatyana Buyskaya

Dumbledore – Harry Potter

Another beard which can be tucked into a belt! Dumbledore’s beard also makes him look God-like and powerful. Like Gandalf, it represents age, wisdom and wizarding finesse. Beards of this length also represent time and patience, and it is easy to see why Harry trusts and idolizes this old quirky man with the steadfast tendrils.

Lovable BeardsRubeus Hagrid.jpg

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These are the affable beards that make you want to climb into them, curl up and fall asleep.

Rubeus Hagrid – Harry Potter

I, for one, was not going to leave Hagrid off any list that includes “loveable” and “beard.” This giant manifestation of a warm hug sports a beard that is wild and hides most of his face. Paired with “long tangles of bushy black hair” and “hands the size of dustbin lids,” Hagrid and his beard remind readers of their endearing big brothers, fathers, or well-meaning uncles. This beard would make me greedily accept cakes with misspelled salutations and assist in dragon-rearing.

Lady Beards

Unexpected, yes, but there are some wonderful bearded maiden moments in literature too.


The Three Witches – Macbeth

“You should be women/And yet your beards forbid me to interpret/That you are so.” I don’t care what close-minded Banquo thinks; if a woman chooses to stop shaving, that is her prerogative. If I could grow a witchy beard, I would save a lot of money on makeup and would enjoy the cooler months more!


Image courtesy of Name-List

Truska – The Vampire’s Assistant

Now here is a bearded lady not to be messed with. Not only does she use her beard to perform in a freak show (she can grow it down to her feet and then quickly retract it) she can command it to kill you. Her beard is a weapon and she proves this by strangling savage Vampaneze (ugly purple vampires)! Let your Cirque Du Freak-flag fly, girl!   

You may love your books hair-free, or love beards that turn pages… What we can all agree on is that books help you grow, and beards, well… they grow on you.


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