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26 September 2020

Trans London in the 1960s: part I - 1960-3

Part I: 1960-3

The 1960s in Britain were a time of considerable change. The Britain that had been before WWII was finally being shaken off, and changes – at first small – were accumulating. Drag performance was a bubble of freedom where trans women too oppressed to go elsewhere could express themselves. The attitudes expressed in drag where very different to what they would become in the next century. The old sexual intolerance, that of aversion therapy, blackmail, entrapment, hypocrisy, etc. started to give way and by the end of the decade we had Swinging London, an incredibly prolific music scene and Gay Lib. However aristocratic privilege was taken to be in conflict with general rights for trans people, and the Corbett v Corbett show trial at the end of the decade legally shackled trans people for the ensuing 30 years.   London – well before anywhere in the US - already had a Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital, but it was not called that, and reactionary opinions were common there as elsewhere.

The legal situation.

Buggery or Sodomy had been a capital offence since the Buggery Acts of 1533, 1548 and 1558 – the last men hanged for Sodomy met their end in 1835. The Offences Against the Person Acts of 1828, 1861 and 1956 retained Sodomy as a crime, but it was no longer a capital offence. 

There was no law against Lesbianism. 

The 1870 trial of Boulton and Park/Fanny and Stella had established that there was no English law against cross-dressing as such. However those doing so were often charged with Disturbing the Peace, which was an offence under English Common Law which gave police officers very free scope. Cross-dressing ‘men’ would often be fined, imprisoned or, in earlier times, put in the pillory, probably because cross-dressing was commonly conflated with sodomy; cross-dressing ‘women’ were usually just cautioned or reprimanded.   

The Labouchère Amendment, 1885, introduced a new offence of ‘gross indecency’ whereby gay men could be prosecuted even when sodomy could not be proven. Oscar Wilde in 1895 and Alan Turing in 1952 had been convicted of ‘gross indecency’. Cross-dressing could be taken as evidence of such.

There had been an attempt in 1921 to expand the 1885 law to cover women as well. It was passed in the Commons, but defeated in the Lords, and the attempt was not repeated.


At the beginnings of the 1960s, there were very few places where visible cross-dressing was accepted.  The three major gatherings where one could do so without the police interfering were the northern resort town of Blackpool at Easter, and in London the Vic-Wells Costume Balls (Old Vic and Sadler's Wells) although it had signs posted saying "No Drag Allowed", and also the Chelsea Arts Ball, which had a similar sign – although people had been cross-dressing for it since 1926.  

Chelsea Arts Ball 1926

The last molly house, that of Stella Minge, was still going in Silvertown, Newham.  Stella, who had been in the merchant navy, was known for her frequent Friday night parties that often lasted until Sunday or even Monday. Stella, a queen herself, often encouraged younger queens, and her place was generally known among sailors, straight as well as gay, as the place to go when in London. Police officers often stopped by because of the noise complaints, but individually would come back when off duty to join in the fun. Sometimes it was raided.

That is unless we regard the Elm Guest House near Barnes common as the last molly house.  However it was a very different kind of molly house, in effect a boy brothel rather than a place for adults to be free in gender expression and same sex activity.

In 1954, after a number of high-profile – and therefore exemplary - convictions of gay men, a change of direction had been needed and John Wolfenden, Vice Chancellor of the University of Reading, was invited to set up a Royal Commission into homosexuality and prostitution.   This was partly at the urging of the bisexual Robert Boothby, then a Conservative MP (and the long-time lover of Dorothy, wife of Harold Macmillan, who became Prime Minister in 1957).  The Wolfenden Report was published later in 1957, and sold 5,000 copies within hours.  Its recommendations on prostitution were quickly acted on and were included in the Street Offences Act, 1959.  The Government used the excuse that the recommendations re homosexuality were “in advance of public opinion”.   A full decade would pass before they were enacted.  For the first seven years, Parliament having refused to act on the recommendations, the implicit message to the police was that homosexuality was not to be tolerated, and things got worse for all LGBT persons.

There was very little pub drag before 1960 except for a few tolerant, mainly straight, pubs in the East End, such as the Bridge House in Canning Town (just north of Silvertown).  The Bridge House in later decades became a heavy metal/punk/goth pub, and the first pub with its own record label.  Another was the Duke of Cambridge pub in Islington, where drag artists had been appearing since the mid-1950s. And in Chelsea the Gateway, London’s best known lesbian bar, which attracted cross-dressing and butch lesbians. 

The Gateway in the early 1950s

Diamond Lil and Maisie
 - Lil lived as female and Maisie dressed for the stage - were a couple who lived in Hackney, London, and were accepted by their neighbours.  They had performed as a drag duo since WWII at various East End venues, particularly the Royal Oak in Columbia Rd, Hackney.  They were still performing into the mid-1960s.

Female impersonator Chris Shaw and his pianist Peter King had a successful double act in the 1950s. In 1959 they had started King Shaw Productions with an office in Bond Street. They produced all-male variety shows, drag acts and fancy dress balls. In the early 1960s Chris performed at the Hoxton Music Hall (1890 – 1987).

Georgina Turtle, the dentist who had had completion surgery in 1957, moved to Hove, Sussex in April. She finally obtained a revised birth certificate in July, but had to supply medical reports along with affidavits from three doctors Kenneth Walker, A.P. Cawadias and her father. Mr Clarkson, the surgeon, was also obliged to provide a report of her anatomy and Georgina had to provide written assurances that she had never been married or been capable of functioning as a male.

The press discovered Georgina, her home was besieged and the phone never stopped ringing. She agreed to an 'exclusive' with The News of the World, and was paid £100. A local paper gave the name of her road and stated that she intended to start a dental practice. This led to difficulties with the General Dental Council, which in those days was very strict against advertising. Turtle threatened to sue the newspapers, apologised to the Council, and was given a reprimand.  Letters started to come from all over the world, from transsexuals and those who might be. Georgina sat up long hours answering them, and at weekends received the writers personally.  Turtle knew most of the London consultants, especially John Randell and Kenneth Walker, and they referred patients to each other.

12 May. Toni April had surgery with Dr Burou in Casablanca.   Shortly afterwards she returned to England, and chose the name of April Ashley.  “I could do nothing about my birth certificate….although people could have their condition biologically explained, medically diagnosed and successfully treated, their transition from one sex to the other had not taken place in the eyes of the law.  For £13 , I became April Ashley.”  (The First Lady p139-140)

April Ashley was quickly able to build a career as a model; clothed, in underwear and nude.  She was in demand and booked months in advance.

18 November.  Arthur Corbett, the heir to the Rowallan Baroncy and a closet transvestite had seen Toni April, a star performer at Le Carrousel in Paris. He used his contact with Louise Lawrence to get in in touch with April via Les Lee, a fellow performer at Le Carrousel. 

Surgeon, Harold Delf Gillies, age 78, suffered a cerebral thrombosis while operating.   He died in hospital a month later.   He had repaired thousands of servicemen in both World Wars, and developed ‘flap surgery’ where a flap of skin is moved to another part of the body to help healing. Flaps were later rolled into tubes, from which a penis could be fashioned. He had done two, but only two, transsexual operations: on Michael Dillon 1942-6, and Betty Cowell in 1951.  He had then been called to the general Medical Council to explain himself.

John Randell, from Glamorganshire, himself a closeted tranvestite, was Physician for Psychological Medicine at Charing Cross Hospital, where he worked with transvestites and transsexuals.  He used the data from this for his MD thesis.  Through the coming years he would see 50 cases a year – however fewer than 10% were approved for surgery and only a third of those had vaginoplasty.

Victor Barker had been pilloried in the press in 1929 when he was convicted of wilfully causing a false statement to be entered in a register of marriage when he took a wife.  In the late 1950s he suffered from Parkinson’s Disease.  In 1960 he sank into a coma, and later died.   He was buried in the grounds of the local parish church in Suffolk, in an unmarked grave. He was 64.

The future Jan Morris won the George Polk Memorial Award for Journalism.

Canadian Jean Fredericks moved to London.  After a straight role in a West-End musical and at the Edinburgh Festival she concentrated on a drag act doing mock-opera.

Mrs Gladys Shufflewick, known to some as Rex Jameson, Dame Comedian, had been drinking more and more, and betting on horses, and by 1960 was bankrupt.

Ernest Thesiger who had played drag and female parts in the 1930s was awarded a CBE.

At the Rome Olympics, two British female athletes were accused in the press of being men.

Roger Ormrod was appointed a judge in the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty division.

R v Penguin Books Ltd.  Following the publication of a full unexpurgated edition in 1960 of Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D H Lawrence, Penguin Books was prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act 1959, which had been introduced in Parliament by Roy Jenkins and included the notion of ‘literary merit’.  Penguin argued successfully that the book did have literary merit and brought in novelists and professors of literature to so testify.   The success opened up a much greater degree of freedom for publishing in the UK.

  • John RandellCross Dressing and the Desire to change Sex, MD Thesis, University of Wales, 1960. Discusses 61 mtf and 16 ftm cases. This was one of the first higher degree theses in English on transsexuality.
  • Lobzang Jivaka. Growing Up into Buddhism. Maha Bodhi Society of India, 1960.  Written by the pioneer trans man Michael Dillon.
  • Gerald Thomas (dir). Carry on Constable.  Scr: Norman Hudis, with Charles Hawtrey as PC Timothy Gorse and Kenneth Williams PC Stanley Benson.   UK 86 mins 1960.   Roger Lewis, Hawtry’s biographer, says of this cheaply made comedy film in which the constables are in cod drag: “where Williams has to have trouble balancing on his high-heeled shoes, Hawtrey’s feminine carriage is perfection – it’s not over-done.  You realize with a smile that he is completely in his element”.   Hawtrey had played female leads in West End Theatres during WWII, but work had dried up in the 1950s.
  • Diana Dors. Swinging Dors.  LP 1960. Arranged by Wally Stott (the future Angela Morley). 



April in Road to Hong Kong

31 July: April Ashley obtained a small part in the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby film, The Road to Hong Kong, partially filmed at Shepperton Studios.   Hope remembered her as a Le Carrousel performer in Paris and Juan-des-Pins, but said nothing publicly.   Crosby kept singing ‘April in Paris’ when April was around. 

27 August:  The People ran an article on the decadence of Rome and its Dolce Vita.  They included a street photograph of April Ashley and Kiki Moustique from a few years before – without naming them, but claiming that they were male ballet dancers.

The People journalist Roy East, having followed up claims that one of the woman in the 27 August photograph was April Ashley, and having paid someone £5 for a tip-off, checked her modelling profile, and then accosted her at her flat in Kensington, and bullied her until he got her story.   Arthur Corbett went to see the editor, and also a friend of his tried to get the story killed.   However this only made the editor convinced that the story was worth running. 

19 November.  The People printed the story " 'Her' secret is out", repeating the photograph from 27 August.   East ended his article with: “One thing I know. April Ashley has had the courage to be frank about her two lives.  It is a courage to be admired”.   This led to closer press attention, and April lost all her modelling work. 

Ina Barton was accepted at Charing Cross Hospital for surgery.  Her friend April Ashley commented:  “They insist on lengthy intervals between each stage and use skin grafts from the legs which leave tell-tale scars on the thighs. So much messier than Dr Burou's technique. But her doctor, John Randell, was very solicitous for her well-being and wrote her letters which began, 'My dearest Galatea...'”.

April Ashley left for Spain with Arthur Corbett.

Ron Storme worked in risqué shows including the Gaiety Box Revue fronted by the gay comedian Larry Grayson. Storme was skilled at costume making, and made outfits for many London drag acts. He was often en femme at private parties, and out on the town – at a time when such off-stage behaviour was unheard of among female impersonators.

Molly Millbury, age 16, had started to go out in female clothes.  The police picked her up, exhibited her at the police station.   Her parents came to pick her up, and she was then sent to a psychiatrist.   She did not complete transition until 2000. (Dickinson: 52-3, 248-9).

John David Talbot married a widow, Mrs Eileen Poyntz, matron of an old people’s home in Brighton, Sussex.   Eileen, now Mrs Talbot, soon realized that John was anatomically not quite the man she expected – but continued to live with him for a year.   They divorced in 1967.

Karoly Hajdu, the future Charlotte Bach, took the name of Michael Karoly and took a course in hypnotherapy. He never graduated but set up in business as a hypnotherapist anyway. He also was taken on as a psychology lecturer at the Stanislavsky Studios in Knightsbridge, and wrote a column on psychology for Today magazine. He was also commissioned by Paul Elek, a Hungarian, to write a book on hypnosis. The book, the only one of his ever published, includes an early explanation of the joys of cross-dressing, and many of the patients in the book are aspects of himself.

Arnold Lowman (Virginia Prince) and his wife Doreen visited her relatives in England, and Virginia used the trip to contact some English transvestites.

4 December.  The contraceptive pill became available for the first time on the NHS, but generally only for older married women who already had children.  Health Minister Enoch Powell announced the decision in the House of Commons.

  • Michael B. Karoly. Hypnosis. Elek,   
  • Claus Overzier (ed). Intersexuality.  Academic Press, 1961.
  • “Sex-Change Girl Barbara Plans Gretna Wedding”. The News of the World, 13 August 1961. Online. Barbara Buick on a trip to England.
  • Ronald Handyside. “Wickedest Street in the World”.  The People, 27 August 1961.  Included a photograph of two women being ejected from a hotel with the caption; “You never dare to take things at their face value on the Via Veneto.  The ‘girls’ that this rich industrialist thought that he was getting along with both turned out to be MALE BALLET-DANCERS … one of them British”.  They were actually April Ashley and Kiki Moustique a few years before.
  • Roy East. " 'Her' secret is out". The Sunday People, 19 November 1961. The first outing of April Ashley.  April had been identified in the photograph in August, and Roy East pursued her until he got a story.

  • Basil Dearden (dir). Victim. Scr: Janet Green & John McCormcik, with  Dirk Bogarde as Melville Farr.  UK 96 mins 1961.   A bisexual barrister stands up to the homophobic blackmail that was possible because being gay was illegal.  The first UK movie to be sympathetic to LGBT persons.  Wikipedia.  Dirk Bogarde, up till then a matinée idol, positively transformed his career with this film.    Following the decision in the Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial the previous year, freedom of discussion was being widened.
  • John Blofeld. City of Lingering Splendour: A Frank Account of Old Peking's Exotic Pleasures. Shambala. 1989 (1961): chp 5 tells of Aleksandr Mikhailovich, a Russian ex-patriate woman in Beijing who changed into a man in the mid-1930s.
  • Roy Castle. Castlewise.  LP 1961. Arranged by Wally Stott



April's autobiography in the News of the World

6 May – 10 June:  April Ashley’s autobiography as written by journalist Noyes Thomas appeared weekly in The News of the World.  An inspiration to a generation of trans girls. 

April Ashley and Ina Barton were sharing a flat in South Kensington.   Ina went to Spain with April. On a previous trip they had gotten into a drunken slap fight about who was to drive. This time April did drive, but Ina freaked out when April mentioned that she’d never taken a test and didn’t have a license. In the commotion they went over a small cliff.  Later when Ina’s surgeries were complete, April took her to Jersey for a week. They rented bicycles. On the second day Ina fell heavily on the cross bar and her vulva was enlarged. She left immediately and returned to London to see her own doctor.

Ventriloquist Terri Rogers had transgender surgery at Charing Cross Hospital.

Gloria Gold, 27, was incarcerated in a mental hospital and subjected to electro-shock aversion therapy while in female clothes and attached to a Penile Plethysmograph. She realised that the only way to escape was to lie that the ‘treatment’ had actually worked.  This put off her transition until twenty years later.  (Dickinson: 52, 54, 74-6, 219, 248)

The future Peter Stirling, who had left her husband and child in Australia, arrived in London and found a flat and a job in shoe retailing. She was able to talk herself into becoming a patient at the Endocrine Clinic, Guy’s Hospital, London, where her primary contact was social worker Margaret Branch.  Stirling was told that her chromosomes were 47 XXY, and she was becoming more male and that if she had waited another couple of years, she would not have been able to have a child. They explained that this extra chromosome altered her hormones. They proposed surgery and hormones to turn her into a man, but they would not start doing this until she was divorced from her husband.

Ron Storme and husband George became known for their parties at their home in Putney which were said to attract name guests such as the spy Kim Philby, lesbian singing star Dusty Springfield and the gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray.  

James Morris resigned from The Guardian and became a freelance writer.  Morris investigated transsexualism. One winter evening in Ludlow he found a half-price copy of Lile Elvenes (Elbe)'s Man into Woman, and "with what agonies of embarrassment" bought it. Morris also read Robert Stoller, and an unspecified account of Charlotte D'Eon.  "I trod the long well-beaten, expensive and fruitless path of the Harley Street psychiatrists and sexologists, one after the other, getting their names from their published works, or being passed from one to the other. None of them in those days, I now realize, knew anything about the matter at all, though none of them admitted it."

Michael Dillon died.   The first trans man to obtain completion surgery, he had fled to India in 1958 to escape attention by the press.   He converted to Tibetan Buddhism and took the name Lobzang Jivaka.  His health failed and he died in Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh,  age 47.  He published two books on Buddhism in his last year.

Jeremy Wolfenden, son of the chairman of the Wolfenden Report and the Daily Telegraph correspondent in Moscow where he had befriended gay defector Guy Burgess, was photographed at his hotel by the KGB in bed with a man. 

Gay man John Vassell was sentenced to 18 years for spying for the Soviet Union. He served 10.   This briefly  embarrassed the Harold Macmillan government, but was soon eclipsed by the more dramatic Profumo Scandal in 1963.

Cis actor Wilfred Brambell (Steptoe & Son; A Hard Day’s Night) was arrested in a public toilet in Shepherds Bush for persistently importuning.  He was given a conditional discharge.

++Popular comedian Stanley Baxter was arrested in a public toilet in Holloway and charged with soliciting.  His barrister convinced the court that Baxter could not have been 'soliciting' when he was arrested because, apart from two policemen, there was no one else in the lavatories.

George Brinham, a former chairman of the Labour Party, had been murdered at home by an 18-year-old Lawrence Somers.   Brinham asked for a kiss; Somers responded by hitting him with a wine decanter several times.  He then dragged the body into the bedroom, and attempted to make it look as if a burglar had done it.  However he left his coat and gloves behind and was soon arrested. 

Wally Stott arranged UK Eurovision Song Contest entry, “Ring-A-Ding Girl" sung by Ronnie Carroll.

Vita Sackville-West who had cross-dressing adventures at the end of WWI, and who was the model for Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, died at age 70 of stomach cancer.

October: The engagement of Georgina Turtle and Christopher Somerset was announced in the Court and Social Page of the Daily Telegraph, and they were married in a church wedding in Westminster. Photographs of their wedding appeared on the front page of all editions of the Evening Standard. They were also featured in most of the Sunday newspapers, and when they arrived in Paris for their honeymoon, they found that they were on the front page of Le Journal du Dimanche.

  • Oxford English Dictionary: ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are no longer synonyms: ‘gender’ refers to social and cultural aspects, and ‘sex’ to the biological.
  • Lobzang Jivaka. Imji Getsul An English Buddhist in a Tibetan Monastery. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962.
  • Lobzang Jivaka. The Life of Milarepa: Tibet's Great Yogi. Murray, 1962.
  • Norman Panama (dir). The Road to Hong Kong, with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Joan Collins and a very small part by April Ashley.   UK 91 mins 1962.  Ashley’s credit in the film was removed (although Dean Martin, Peter Sellers, Frank Sinatra and David Niven were also uncredited). 
  • Noyes Thomas writing as April Ashley. “My Strange Life”. The News of the World. 6 May 1962.
  • Noyes Thomas writing as April Ashley. "Goodbye M'sieu, hello Mamsells, the doctor said". News of the World, 13 May 1962.
  • Noyes Thomas writing as April Ashley. "Roman Scandal – hotel throws us out". News of the World, 27 May 1962.
  • Noyes Thomas writing as April Ashley. "The Operation". News of the World, 3 June 1962.
  • Noyes Thomas writing as April Ashley. "There, in a crowded pub, Arthur told me he loved me". News of the World, 10 June 1962.
  • James Clavell. King Rat.  Martin Joseph, 1962.  A novel about the Japanese POW camp at Changi, Singapore where Clavell was interned for three years.  A secondary character was Sean Jennison, a fighter pilot.   He is selected to play female parts in the camp theatricals because he was one of the youngest men present and because he shaved only infrequently.   Initially very resistant, Jennison comes to identify with the part and, after growing his hair, starts to live as a woman full- time.  When the camp is liberated, Jennison cannot adjust, and – in female clothing – walks into the sea and dies.  Review.


Philip Larkin’s poem, “Annus Mirabilis”:

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.

23 January.  Top British spy, Kim Philby, fled to Moscow, although it was not officially confirmed until 1 July.  Unlike his two fellow spies, Donald Mclean and Guy Burgess, who had fled to Moscow in 1951, Philby was neither gay nor bi.

The Conservative Government of Harold Macmillan was greatly and further embarrassed by the heterosexual Profumo Scandal, wherein the Secretary of State for War had been having sex with the same mistress, Christine Keeler, as a Soviet naval attaché.  Keeler had been introduced to both by Stephen Ward an osteopath and socialite.  In March Profumo denied impropriety in a statement to the House of Commons, but admitted all a few weeks later and resigned as a Minister and as an MP. In June, Tom Denning, a senior judge was asked to conduct an enquiry. He published it in September, and 105,000 copies were sold.  Ward was the only person charged – with living off immoral earnings – and killed himself during the final stages of his trial.  Macmillan resigned as Prime Minister ‘on health grounds’ in October. 

It was an open secret that Ernest Marples, the Minister of Transport, engaged prostitutes, however he was not involved in the Profumo Scandal.  Tom Denning investigating the Profumo scandal, also investigated rumours about other ministers.  His investigation was close to its conclusion when on 9 July a woman using the name Mrs Ann Bailey, but sometimes Mrs Smith, came forward. She explained that she was a full-time prostitute and had for a long time been paid by Marples. She described how he bought women’s clothes and wore them when he met her. She described his further tastes of which, she said, ‘whipping was the least sickening’.   It was felt that this very much exposed Marples to a risk of blackmail. It was also felt that Bailey had been encouraged to approach the Denning inquiry by a national newspaper so that once her evidence was authenticated and published in Denning’s report, the newspaper would be clear to pay her and publish the story. 

Several of the medical men in London had suggested to Georgina Somerset that she write her autobiography, but what she did produce was a study based on those transsexuals who had contacted her. This involved a detailed knowledge of 30 of the transsexuals (one of whom was the future Jan Morris) and lesser knowledge of 100 others. The book was published in 1963, under her maiden name, as Over the Sex Border, with a Foreword by Kenneth Walker.  This was three years before Harry Benjamin's book, and thus is the first ever on the topic.  She says that she is not a transsexual, and that surgery should be only for intersex persons and those transsexuals under 25 who have never married or had children.  "Less than a few percent of transsexuals are true or primary transsexuals. These are generally the lonely, sensitive, asexual types of transsexual" (p82).  She refers to trans women as male transsexuals.  "The sad part is that, however permissive society becomes, these cases will always have to accept that biologically and organically they are really no more than feminised males or masculinised females, and will forever remain, regardless of their altered anatomy, of the male or female sex to which they were born. (72)".  However she does balance this with:  "There are still some to-day known to me of that era who were repeatedly turned away, heartbroken and suicidal, and yet who have managed to struggle on trying to do 'the right thing' and maintain the respect of society. For them the magical dream of being a young girl has gone for ever – they never wanted to be old women! They banged at the door and it creaked a little, making it easier for the next, but they themselves never 'made it' through. It is these less fortunate unknowns, not just the well-known cases, that transsexuals have to thank to-day for the recognition given to the syndrome. (p97)"

S vs S 1962.  A woman [possibly intersex] with a defect of the vagina was held to be a woman in that her chromosomes, gonads and genitals were concordant, and the court declined to annul the marriage.

10 September. Arthur Corbett and April Ashley were wed in Gibraltar, April thereby becoming Lady Corbett, Arthur being the heir apparent to the Rowallan Baroncy.  April’s passport was sufficient for identification. 

Norman Hartnell, couturier to three Queens and half the aristocracy, and closet transvestite, had made the mistake of promoting his husband, George Mitchison, to general manager of the firm.  Mitchison was extravagant and incompetent, and the firm sank into debt.  In 1963 Hartnell had to sell his beloved house. 

The future Christine Goodwin, bus driver, married and father of four, underwent aversion therapy which led to repression of being trans for over twenty years.

Michael Karoly – the future Charlotte Bach - was charged at Knebworth with a breach of the peace after being arrested dressed as female. He separated from his wife, founded Divorcees Anonymous and seduced several of the women who attended. After a denouncing article in the Sunday People, both his hypnosis patients and members of Divorcees Anonymous stayed away.

Wally Stott arranged the UK Eurovision Song Contest entry, “Say Wonderful Things” sung by Ronnie Carroll.

Kenneth Tynan, drama critic, closet transvestite and spanking enthusiast, was having an affair with April Ashley’s flatmate.  He also became literary manager at the newly founded National Theatre, in those days located at the Old Vic Theatre in Waterloo.

At the trial of Lawrence Somers for murdering George Brinham, the accused used the gay panic defense, the judge directed the jury to a verdict of not guilty: "...this man attempted to make homosexual advances... I think that is about as clear a case of provocation as it is possible to have".  Somers was found not guilty of all charges despite his excessive reaction, his tampering with the scene, attempting a cover-up and failing to report a death.

  • Georgina Turtle. Over the Sex Border. Victor Gollancz, 1963. A study based on those transsexuals who had contacted the author. This involved a detailed knowledge of 30 of the transsexuals and lesser knowledge of 100 others. 
  • CJ Dewhurst & RR Gordon.  “Change of Sex”.  The Lancet, 2, 7 December 1963. 19 successful late reassignments of hermaphrodites (up to 33 years). 
  • Ian Berg, Harold Nixon & Robert MacMahon. “Change of Assigned Sex at Puberty”. The Lancet, 2, 7 December 1963. Two article refuting Money’s position that gender changed must be done by 30 months.
  • James Morris. Coronation Everest. Faber and Faber, 1963.

  • Lionel Crane. “How to Spot a Potential Homo”.  Sunday Mirror, 28 April 1963: 7.  The KGB had identified John Vassell, so why not MI5?  On the homophobic assumption that all gays are security risks, a list of stereotypes: middle-aged, unmarried with a strong affection for his mother; fussy dresser; over-clean; adored by older women; drinks alone while looking at other men; etc.
  • Derek Ive. “The strange facts about ‘Divorcees Anonymous’ and the bashful Mr K who runs it”.  The People, November 10, 1963: 6.  Michael Karoly (Charlotte Bach)’s last attempt to be cishet.



  • Georgina Turtle. Over the Sex Border. Victor London: Gollancz. 319 pp 1963.
  • Gillian Freeman: The Undergrowth of Literature. Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1967.
  • Duncan Fallowell & April Ashley. April Ashley's Odyssey.Jonathan Cape, 1982. London: Arrow 1983. Online.
  • Kris Kirk with photographs by Ed Heath. Men In Frocks. London: Gay Men's Press 1984.
  • Peter Stirling. So Different: an Extraordinary Autobiography. Simon & Schuster 1989.
  • Alkarim Jivani. It’s Not Unusual: A History of Gay Britain in the Twentieth Century. Indiana Press, 1997.
  • Roger Lewis. Charles Hawtrey 1914-1988: The Man Who Was Private Widdle. Faber and Faber, 2001.
  • Rose Collis. Colonel Barker's monstrous regiment: a tale of female husbandry. Virago, 2001.
  • Pierre-Henri Castel. Chronologie et bibliographie représentative du transsexualisme et des pathologies de l'identité sexuelle de 1910 à 1998. 2003. Online.
  • April Ashley with Douglas Thompson. The First Lady. Blake, 2006.
  • Patrick Newley. The Amazing Mrs Shufflewick: The Life of Rex Jameson. Third Age Press. 2007.
  • Tommy Dickinson. ‘Curing Queers’: Mental nurses and their patients, 1935-74. Manchester University Press, 2015.
  • Michael Bloch. C10set Queens: Some 20th Century British Politicians. Abacus, 2015.
  • Michael Pick. Norman Hartnell. The Biography. Zuleika, 2019.
  • Haydon Bridge. “The Mysterious East: East London has generally kept its gay history secret … until now”. QX London Gay History. Online.
  • Haydon Bridge. “Go West, Young man: Pretty and fashionable – West London is just like the gay men who’ve lived there!”. QX London Gay History. Online.
  • Haydon Bridge. “Northern Exposure: For London’s newest gay village and most famous cruising ground head north …” QX London Gay History. Online

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Comments that constitute non-relevant advertisements will be declined, as will those attempting to be rude. Comments from 'unknown' and anonymous will also be declined. Repeat: Comments from "unknown" will be declined, as will anonymous comments. If you don't have a Google id, I suggest that you type in a name or a pseudonym.