Peninsula of Lies is an enthralling investigation of a bizarre life that begins in Kent, England with the birth of an illegitimate baby and ends in south Carolina, USA with a sex-change and a scandal. Edward Ball unwraps a mystery that has fascinated a succession of authors in the past decade. Who was Gordon Langley Hall, the illegitimate son of ...
Peninsula of Lies is an enthralling investigation of a bizarre life that begins in Kent, England with the birth of an illegitimate baby and ends in south Carolina, USA with a sex-change and a scandal. Edward Ball unwraps a mystery that has fascinated a succession of authors in the past decade. Who was Gordon Langley Hall, the illegitimate son of two servants at Sissinghurst Castle (home of author Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson, diplomat, author and politician)? Gordon becomes the recipient of the millions of an American heiress, author of biographies (including the eccentric English actress, Margaret Rutherford, the original screen 'Miss Marple'), and moves to Charleston, south Carolina. There Gordon changes sex and reinvents him/herself as Dawn Langley Hall. The mystery deepens when Dawn marries a young black mechanic (the matrons of the still-segregated Charleston are appalled), appears around the town apparantly pregnant a few months later claims that the daughter she is seen pushing around the town in a pram is actually her own. Edward Ball, who won the American National Book Award for Slaves in the Family, investigates Hall's story and in the final chapter offers his solution.
Fine in Fine jacket. Collectible. 8vo-over 7¾"-9¾" tall. 271 pp., illus.; 25 cm. Tight, clean copy. Fine DJ. A fine copy of the first printing. "Peninsula of Lies is a nonfiction mystery, set in haunting locales and peopled with fascinating characters, that unwraps the enigma of a woman named Dawn Langley Simmons, a British writer who lived in Charleston, South Carolina, during the 1960s and became the focus of one of the most unusual sexual scandals of the last century. Born in England sometime before World War II, Dawn Langley Simmons began life as a boy named Gordon Langley Hall. Gordon was the son of servants at Sissinghurst Castle, the estate of Vita Sackville-West, where as a child he met Vita's lover Virginia Woolf. In his twenties, Gordon made his way to New York, where he became an author of society biographies and befriended such grandes dames as the actress Margaret Rutherford and the artist and heiress Isabel Whitney, who left him a small fortune. The money allowed Gordon to buy a mansion in Charleston and fill it with period furniture, providing a stage for him to entertain more great ladies and to climb the social ladder of the Southern gentry to its heights. However, Gordon's world changed instantly in 1968, when at The Johns Hopkins Hospital he underwent one of the first sex-reassignment surgeries, returning to Southern society and scandalizing Charleston as the new Dawn Langley Hall. Dawn Hall furthermore announced that her surgery had been corrective, because she'd actually been misidentified as a boy at birth. Three months later, Dawn raised the stakes in still-segregated Charleston when she arranged her very public marriage to a young black mechanic, John-Paul Simmons. In due course, Dawn appeared around town pregnant; finally, she could be seen pushing a baby carriage with a child--her daughter, Natasha. National Book Award-winning author Edward Ball (Slaves in the Family) has written a detective story that deciphers the riddle of Dawn Simmons, a once rich and infamous changeling who died in 2000, her sexual identity never determined. Peninsula of Lies is an engrossing narrative of a person who tested every taboo, as well as the confidence of observers in their own eyes. / Edward Ball was born in Savannah, Georgia; graduated from Brown University; and was a writer for The Village Voice. His first book, Slaves in the Family, won the National Book Award. He is also the author of The Sweet Hell Inside."-Publisher.
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