For more than nine decades gay pensioner Mike Soper hid his sexuality for fear of persecution.

Now, at the age of 93, he has become one of the country's oldest authors after publishing his first book, The Heart Entrapped - a gay romance.

Mr Soper only decided to write the novel after 'coming out' at the age of 91 - and only told his fellow residents at the The Old Vicarage nursing home, in Moulsford, where he lives, after they asked to read his novel.

He said: "When all the old ladies heard about the book, they asked if they could read it. So I had to tell them I was gay and that it was a gay-themed novel."

Mr Soper, a former academic at Christ Church, Oxford, until 1981, said it had been nice to be honest about his sexuality after so many years.

He said: "I had to keep quiet about my sexuality when I was lecturing at Oxford, as undergraduates would not have been very kind if they had known I was gay. I took some risks when I was young - I could have appeared in court because of my job and the attitude at the time - so I had to be discreet.

"Society has changed so much now. People can express their sexuality. But during the 1960s, 70s and even the 80s, I had to be very quiet about my personal life. I lived my life in the shadows and of course it was difficult coming to terms with it.

"As an undergraduate, I thought I was the only gay in the world."

He said his nieces and nephews had not been surprised by his announcement, and had given him the support he needed to write the novel.

He said: "My family have been very understanding and supportive since my announcement, though I don't think it came as much of a surprise to them.

"I had never married or had children, and I was in a loving relationship for more than 40 years."

Mr Soper's novel spans the era from the 1960s to the present day.

It centres on a young man returning to the family farm after college, having fallen in love with another man at a time when same-sex relationships are illegal.

Speaking about his reasons for writing the novel, Mr Soper said: "I wanted to try and present a different view on gay life.

"There is this image of gay people that you see time and time again on the television, as a community that only thinks about sex.

"I'm seriously worried the younger generation have forgotten about AIDS.

"My novel looks at a different aspect, at gay men who are in loving, long term relationships."

The Heart Entrapped is published by Athena Press and is only available through the online seller Amazon, priced at £10.99.