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Peninsula of Lies

A True Story of Mysterious Birth and Taboo Love

About The Book

Peninsula of Lies is nonfiction mystery, set in a haunting gothic locale and peopled by fascinating and eccentric characters. Its hero and heroine is Dawn Langley Simmons, a British writer who lived in Charleston, South Carolina, during the 1960s and became the center of one of the most unusual sexual scandals.
Born in England, Dawn began life as a boy named Gordon Langley Hall, the son of servants at Sissinghurst Castle, the estate of Vita Sackville-West. In his twenties he made his way to New York, where he wrote about and befriended great society ladies. A small fortune inherited from Isabel Whitney allowed him to buy and decorate a mansion in Charleston. But Gordon's world changed in 1968 when at The Johns Hopkins Hospital he underwent one of the first sexual reassignment surgeries, scandalizing the Southern community that had welcomed him. Months later Gordon shocked Charleston again. Gordon -- now Dawn -- married a young black mechanic, soon appeared to be pregnant, and shortly thereafter became the mother of a young girl.
National Book Award-winning author Edward Ball has written a detective story that unwraps Dawn's many mysteries. The result is an engrossing narrative of a person who tested every taboo, as well as the confidence of observers in their own eyes.

About The Author

Photo Credit:

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.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 7, 2005)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743235617

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Raves and Reviews

"Dawn Langley Simmons -- stoic, charming, and utterly bizarre -- was one of the great taboo-trashing eccentrics of our time. Edward Ball carefully unravels the mystery and explains the fantasy in fascinating detail."
-- John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

"Ball's genteel detective story...charts the course of an almost absurdly colorful life."
-- The New Yorker

"Edward Ball trolls the Peninsula of Lies in Charleston, South Carolina, for the taboo-breaking story of a mysterious sex-changed socialite."
-- Vanity Fair

"Excellent....Ball sympathetically but skeptically sifts the facts and rumors that survived Simmons at her death in 2000....Peeling back the layers, he discovers a fascinating enigma."
-- Newsweek

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