The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

The Book of British Sporting Heroes

The Book of British Sporting Heroes cover The Book of British Sporting Heroes interior spread

James Huntington-Whiteley has worked as a freelance researcher and writer and has curated numerous exhibitions, including The Art of Boxing and England's Glory: An Exhibition of Football .


Paperback, 278 x 224mm
240 pages, 200 illustrations, 100 in colour
ISBN 1 85514 249 X
Special offer price: £5.00

Click here to browse all our in print books on History

Out of Print

Compiled by James Huntington-Whiteley

Introduction by Richard Holt

From the goal mouth to the winning post, Twickenham to St Andrews, The Ashes to the Derby, champagne and strawberries to meat pies and tea - the highs and lows, the triumphs and tragedies, the heroes and even some of the villains of Great Britain's most popular spectator sports are brought together to celebrate the social history and vivid culture of our favourite national pastime.

Sporting Heroes charts the popular image of the British sporting hero in works of art dating from the 18th century to the present day. Arranged in a dictionary format, contemporary heroes and heroines, including such household names as Frank Bruno, are brought together with their earlier counterparts, such as the 19th-century pugilist Tom Cribb: the book includes cricketers W.G. Grace and Ian Botham; footballers from Sir Stanley Matthews to Gary Lineker and athletes from Roger Bannister to Sally Gunnell.

Illustrated throughout with paintings, drawings, sculpture, prints and photographs, the book also includes many images from private collections that have never been seen before. It is both a celebration of the role of sport in the national psyche and a fascinating history of how that role developed.

This product is supplied by the National Portrait Gallery Company Limited. For more information on the Company, click here. Every purchase supports the National Portrait Gallery.

Visit From Your Armchair

Self-portrait as My Father from the series Encounter  by Silvia Rosi © Silvia Rosi

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize

An online exhibition celebrating the very best in contemporary portrait photography.

Visit now

Hold Still

Hold Still

Explore our community photography project, which presents a personal record of the UK during lockdown.

Explore the exhibition

Margaret Thatcher by Spitting Images Productions Ltd painted plastic, 1985

Sculptures in 360°

See sculptures and fascinating objects from our Collection from all angles.

View the 360s

David Hockney: Drawing from Life

Watch highlights from our special exhibition, which had to close early in March 2020 due to lockdown.

See the video