Inside Out

The Extraordinary Legacy of April Ashley

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Pub Date 9 May 2024 | Archive Date 30 Apr 2024

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‘April Ashley was born, aged twenty-five, on 12 May 1960. It was a difficult birth at the Clinique du Parc on rue Lapébie, a back street running parallel to the admired avenue d’Amade in Casablanca, on a day when the Moroccan sunshine was behaving the way the guidebooks say it should . . .’

Through her own – often bloody-minded – determination and the medical skill of others, April Ashley became the woman she had always believed herself to be. 

And for half a dozen decades she soared around, over and above momentous and turbulent times, difficult, and changing times when, finally, who you wanted to be and who you could be became the cultural topic of the day.

She overcame opprobrium and penury and became renowned and celebrated for one specific achievement: being April Ashley.

This raw, moving and funny memoir reveals April’s life as never before.

‘April Ashley was born, aged twenty-five, on 12 May 1960. It was a difficult birth at the Clinique du Parc on rue Lapébie, a back street running parallel to the admired avenue d’Amade in Casablanca...

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ISBN 9781802471755
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Featured Reviews

I didn't know much about April Ashley before reading this book so it was great to learn about her history and the journey she went through.

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April Ashley was one of the Britain's best-known and in demand fashion models in the early 1960's,even being photographed in Vogue by David Bailey . Her burgeoning career as a model and actress crashed to the ground when with it's notorious disdain for wrecking lives Britain's gutter press of the time,in this case the Sunday People, "outed" her as a transexual. Born into poverty in Liverpool,and with "being born in the wrong body" only one of many of life's trials that she had to overcome she physically became a woman at the age of 25 in 1960.

This is the fascinating,and eventful,story of someone who lived life to the full and mixed with the great and the good (and not so good) in "swinging 60's London. April was no wallflower and, after the press had revealed all, throughout her life was open and proud of who and what she was.
Names are dropped liberally throughout the book and April's thoughts and feelings are laid bare. There's a lot of misunderstanding and prejudice about Trans people now, so imagine the reaction April,a very well-known public figure, received over 60 years ago.
There's no self-pity here,far from it, despite her many travails April loved life and carried on regardless.
As well as the life story of a fascinating and inspirational person, she received an MBE for services to transexual equality, the book gives a valuable first hand insight for those who "don't get" what being transgender means.

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This is a fascinating and lively account of the life of a remarkable person. Yes, there are stories about almost every famous person from the 50’s and 60’s ( and later - Michael Hutchence most notably perhaps!) and there is detail of the procedures April and others who underwent sex change surgery. But what I found most fascinating and engaging was how April kept so upbeat and bounced back from every challenge and setback that she faced in her life. How she stuck to her goals in life and how attitudes and support for the transgender community has changed over the years. I was aware of April previously but am so glad that I have now understood more about her from someone who knew her so well. What an amazing character. I would love to have had one glass of champagne with her!

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April Ashley’s odyssey is full of difficulties, changes and self realisation. She had a traumatic childhood. In 1960s, when people were oblivion to sex reassignment surgery or they didn’t accept it, she took a brave step and decided to become what she always felt. She was born as a boy but she always knew she is a woman inside. She fought for herself and for securing her identity as a woman. She rectified it but the world didn’t accept her. But she didn’t give up and continued to fight for transgender rights. The trials happened, they turned her life upside down. And later in 2012, she received MBE for services to Transgender Equality. This is a must read

She is known for the efforts she made for securing Transgender people rights,

Many Thanks to the Author and Publisher.

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I never heard of April Ashley before so I was glad to read this book and get to learn about this amazing person. It really brought everything to light and that it worked as a biography. I really learned a lot about April Ashley and glad I was able to read this. Douglas Thompson has a great writing style and I’m glad I was able to read this.

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This book was absolutely fascinating! I had never heard of April Ashley before, she was quite some woman. Reading this inspired me to research her life and what a life she had.
She was brutally honest and very much lived her life on her terms. She was wonderfully indiscrete and I loved all her life stories. She is someone I would have loved to have shared a few bottles of wine with! I did slightly question her account of her night with Michael Hutchence, in 1982 she would have been 47, he would have been 22. A bit unlikely perhaps? But hey if it did happen then all power to her as he was literally the sexiest man of the 80s!
There is an appalling backlash against trans rights at the moment, more people should read about women like April. She literally did not want to live if she couldn't live as a woman, this was no fad or phase, this was life or death. The surgery she underwent in 1960 was groundbreaking and certainly not something to be gone through on a whim.
This book is full or surprises, from Elvis trying to seduce her at a Paris club in the 1950s, to long time friend John Prescott helping her gain her authentic birth certificate in 2005. I would thoroughly recommend this book.

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