For PopMatters, I spoke to theatre historian, Charles Duff, about his astonishing memoir, ‘Charley’s Woods’. Charles was adopted in 1950 in part to make his parents’ marriage of convenience (both were gay, as, it turned out, was he) look more plausible. His young life brought him into contact with everyone from Tallulah Bankhead to the Queen Mother but the pleasure of such excitements was undermined by his indifferent mother and positively cruel father, both of whom repeatedly lied to him about his provenance.
The law preventing adopted children from claiming against their parents’ estate wasn’t changed until 1980 – several months too late. Upon his father’s death, Charles’s cousin, someone who’d never given him the time of day, swooped in for the multi-million pound jackpot, sharing not so much as one penny with Charles, who was left destitute and drinking meths. His exquisite and vivid memoir documents his colourful, chaotic childhood and the way in which he survived it.