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12 January 2011

Norman Haire (1892 – 1952) sexologist.

Norman was born in Sydney, the eleventh and last child of Henry Zions, né Zajac, a Polish-born Jew and his English wife. Norman studied medicine at the University of Sydney, and gained an MB and Ch.M, in 1915.  After a short spell at a hospital in Brisbane, he was a captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps for the duration of the war.

Haire, Hirschfeld on the left
In 1919 he worked his passage to Europe, and changed his surname to Haire (Polish 'zajac' = hare).

In 1920 he visited Berlin, Magnus Hirschfeld and the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft. He quickly became fluent in German, and introduced German publication on sexual science to English-speaking readers.

Also in 1920 he attended a meeting of the Malthusian League, and was appointed medical officer-in-charge at the Walworth Women's Welfare Centre, one of the earliest birth-control clinics.

He contacted, corresponded with and frequently met Havelock Ellis. He was a member of the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, the International Medical Group for the Investigation of Birth Control, and the Eugenics Education Society.

In 1925 he opened a private practice in Harley Street, and was notoriously an expensive consultant. He pioneered the Haire vaginal pessary as a form of birth control, and introduced into Britain the Grafenberg 'silver' ring, an intra-uterine device. He followed the methods of Eugen Steinach in attempting male sexual rejuvenation by bilateral vasectomy.

In 1927 Haire published his major book, Hymen. As secretary of the World League for Sexual Reform, he organized its third congress in London in 1929. He edited the proceedings, a massive 670-page volume, and published them a year later. He was president of the league from 1930. In 1931, the league protested that transsexual Norma Jackson had been sentenced to 18 months hard labour. In the mid-1930s he acquired a country estate at Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.

In 1933 Haire wrote the introduction to the English translation of Lili Elvenes (Elbe)'s biography. In 1934 he edited The Encyclopaedia of Sexual Knowledge, mainly written by Arthur Koestler (as Alfrede Costler). In 1936 he was involved in the publication of Sexual Anomalies and Perversions, based on Hirschfeld's writings. Until the 1991 translation of Die Transvestiten, this is the Hirschfeld book used by most English sexologists.

The World League for Sexual Reform fell apart that same year, the German chapter having been destroyed by the Nazi government, but Haire continued as the president of the British off-shoot, the Sex Education Society.

Although he did not drink alcohol, Haire was known for his appetite and his joy in food. By the late 1930s he had been diagnosed as diabetic and nephritic. In 1940, shorty after war broke out, he returned to Australia. He pleaded health reasons, but was accused of cowardice.

He opened an expensive practice in Sydney, but also lectured for the Workers' Educational Association and the New Education Fellowship, and spoke on the wireless. He took up acting, and was well reviewed for his performance in Bernard Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma. Using the name Wykeham Terris, he wrote a series of articles for the weekly magazine, Woman, a pioneering series discussing sex-education, pregnancy and childbirth issues, gynaecological disorders and venereal disease.

In 1944 he appeared in a debate on the Australian Broadcasting Commission's 'Nation's Forum of the Air' arguing that population should be limited. Afterwards he was strongly denounced in the House of Representatives. He was soon ready to return to London, and did so in 1946, but not before completing his book on Havelock Ellis.

However many of his old associates were dead, and others avoided him. He tried to revive the Sex Education Society, and founded and partly financed the Journal of Sex Education (1948-52).

On a trip to the US he suffered a heart attack, and never completely recovered. He died of ischaemic cardiac failure in 1952.

He had never married, and left his estate, including his library and papers to the University of Sydney which founded the Norman Haire research fellowship.
  • Norman Haire & Margaret Sanger. Hygienic Methods of Family Limitation. London: Printed for the Malthusian League by Geo. Standring, 1920.
  • Norman Haire, Eugen Steinach, and Serge Voronoff. Rejuvenation, the Work of Steinach, Voronoff, and Others. London: G. Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1924.
  • Norman Haire. Marriage. London?: s.n, 1927.
  • Norman Haire. Hymen. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1927.
  • Sexual Reform Congress, and Norman Haire. World League for Sexual Reform, Proceedings of the Third Congress. London: K. Paul, 1930.
  • Lili Elbe and Niels Hoyer, translated from the German by H.J. Stenningwith an introduction by Norman Haire. Man into woman: An authentic record of a change of sex ; The true story of the miraculous transformation of the Danish painter Einar Wegener (Andreas Sparre). New York: Dutton, 1933. London : Jarrold Publisher's, xiii, 287 pp 24 plates 1933.
  • Norman Haire, O. Fisher, L. Vander, and A. Willy. The Encyclopedia of Sex Practice. London: Encyclopedia Press, 1934.
  • Norman Haire, Alfrède Costler, and A. Willy. Encyclopædia of sexual knowledge. London: F. Aldor, 1934.
  • RenéGuyon, J. C. Flugel, Ingeborg Klingberg Flügel & Norman Haire. The Ethics of Sexual Acts. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1934.
  • Anthony M. Ludovici, with an Introd. by Norman Haire and 7 Diagrams. The Choice of a Mate. London:The international library of sexology and psychology, 1935.
  • Sofie Lazarsfeld with an Introduction by Norman Haire. Woman's Experience of the Male. London: Encyclopaedic Press, 1938.
  • Norman Haire. Australia's Population Problem. 1941.
  • Norman Haire. Sex Problems of to-Day. Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1942.
  • Magnus Hirschfeld, edited by Norman Haire. Sexual Anomalies And Perversions: Physical And Psychological Development And Treatment - A Summary Of The Works Of The Late Dr Magnus Hirschfeld. Francis Aldor Publisher, 1936. Emerson Books,1948.
  • Norman Haire. Havelock Ellis: Adventurer in Morals. Melbourne: Ratonalist Association of Australia, 1947.
  • Frank M.C. Forster. "Haire, Norman (1892 – 1952)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006.


  1. Haire did charge high fees to wealthy patients at his Harley Street practice but used this money to provide his services free (to poor women at his birth control clinic), to help Jewish refugees and to publish low-cost, easily accessible books. Sydney University Press released his biography which I wrote in 2012 - 'Norman Haire and the Study of Sex' -

  2. Norman Haire fitted my mother with a Graffenberg ring IUD in the early 1930s when she was living, as yet unmarried, with my father in London. I've always wondered how she could have afforded his fees as they were far rich. I don't think she would have gone to a free clinic so I imagine that her consultation must have been arranged through the good offices of a mutual friend. My parents were on the edge of the Bohemian cultural scene in which my father, Boris de Chroustchoff, an antiquarian bookseller, had been involved during the 1920s.
    [Comment rewritten to correct typo.]

    1. Correction: line two: "Far from rich"


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