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Becoming Drusilla: One Life, Two Friends, Three Genders [Paperback]

Richard Beard
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 May 2009

For years Richard Beard would take spontaneous holidays with his motor-cycling friend Drew. They would spend a few days walking, camping, cycling, canoeing - outdoor, manly fun - before returning to everyday life: wives, children, jobs. Richard was writing novels. Drew was working in the engine-room of cross-channel passenger ferries. Then one year Drew phoned to announce a complication: he was planning to have a sex change.

This is the story of how Drew became Dru, of what happened to their friendship, and their adventures in wildest Wales the first time they went camping as man and woman. It is warm, sad, funny; an intimate tale of shared humanity.

Frequently Bought Together

Becoming Drusilla: One Life, Two Friends, Three Genders + My Husband Betty: Love, Sex, and Life With a Crossdresser + She's Not the Man I Married: My Life with a Transgender Husband
Price For All Three: 26.18

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (7 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099507730
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099507734
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 382,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Beard is the author of five novels, most recently Lazarus is Dead, described by the Scotland Sunday Herald as 'surprising, spellbinding, witty and utterly original.'

X20, his first novel, is about a man giving up smoking: every time he wants a cigarette, he writes something down instead. Damascus is a love-story set on a single day, 1 November 1993, and all the nouns in the novel come from that day's edition of The Times newspaper. The Cartoonist is a story set in and around Disneyland Paris, in which libel and copyright restrictions prevent the characters from ever entering the Disneyland theme-park.

Dry Bones, published by Secker and Warburg, is a 'rollercoaster philosophical journey of Stoppard-like brilliance.' (Glasgow Herald).

Beard is also the author of three works of non-fiction, Muddied Oafs, The Soul of Rugby (Yellow Jersey 2003), Manly Pursuits, Beating the Australians (Yellow Jersey 2006), and Becoming Drusilla (Harvill Secker 2008).

Richard Beard was a games teacher at the Dragon School in Oxford before becoming private secretary to Mathilda, Duchess of Argyll. He moved to Paris to work at the National Library while continuing his studies with the Open University. In 1994, he enrolled on Malcolm Bradbury's Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia, followed by two years in Geneva, then a house in the Mendip Hills owned by the Royal Society of Literature, and on to Japan in 2003 as Visiting Professor at the University of Tokyo.

In 2006 he returned to Europe and lived in Strasbourg, and is now back in the UK as Director of the National Academy of Writing.

Product Description


"A wonderfully sympathetic account of how and, possibly, why Drew became Dru" (Daily Mail)

"A gentle, wise and touching book, full of warmth, humour, friendship and humanity" (Literary Review)

"A brave and intelligent book" (Daily Telegraph)

"This beautifully-written and thoroughly well-researched book is Beard's searingly honest attempt to understand what his friend had gone through ... It is deliciously un-PC, unpreachy, refreshingly free of sentimentality, and, at times, drily comic... touching and life affirming. It left me marvelling about human nature. There aren't many of those kinds of books about" (Dermond Moore Irish Post)

"This very personal story of how the friendship between two men had to be completely re-evaluated when one of them had a sex change is written in an honest and deeply thoughtful way and is totally devoid of any sensationalism or prurience" (reFresh magazine)

Book Description

Funny, brilliant, original: the story of a friendship between two men and what happened when one of them announced he was becoming a woman.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is without doubt one of the finest,well written,clever,moving books i have ever read.Everything about this book is excellent from the way it is written to the old fashioned styling of the way the book as been made with a proper binding and drawings (done by Drusilla)between each chapter.
The journey they undertake together is not unlike the whole journey of transitioning because Richard has himself so many doubts and questions he is trying to find answers to.
The actual trip for me was very moving because parts of their journey are through areas i know so well and have a special meaning to me personally.
There are so many books available telling the arduous path of being a transsexual person but after reading a few you find yourself skipping chapters because so many are similar. With this book you will find that once you start reading it you will have great trouble putting it down.
Richard Beards observations on Drusilla,who herself is a very interesting person,are so clever, sensitive and intelligent,he looks at the complete picture,his own feelings,drusilla's feelings and how other people react. If you only ever read one trans-persons story make sure it is this one and if you know anyone who is going down this sometimes very difficult path make sure that they and all their friends,family and work colleges read it because the people who are on the outside may have a very different opinion afterwards.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
It's not often that I pick a book up and instantly feel part of it, drawing on the words on the page and eagerly wanting more. But this book had me hooked from the very first page.

Autobiographies of Transsexuals tend to end up in a standard kind of way, you see the struggles, you see the need to conform and see an individual that seemingly breaks the shackles of a previous part of life, and throws them away. I often feel sad about this, for example Roberta Cowell felt the overwhelming need to stop liking motor cars because she lost an interest in them. It has always comes across to me it seemed she felt it was the right thing to do, and so the need to conform made her shun things she liked rather than embrace her inner self. Happily she allowed her liking to come back but in many other books I have seen people throw a whole chapter of their life away, as though it never belonged to the.

With Dru in "Becoming Drusilla" you get to see a more familiar viewpoint, that it isn't a sin to still like things you always have, that many transsexuals keep an element of femininity and Masculinity of their previous part of life with them, something no different to any other man or woman.

Dru still likes the things she did before, she likes to canoe, to fix motor cars, to go hiking, to work on ships in engine rooms, and drink pints of Beer, all considered manly things to do. For the average person even in our more liberal way of life in the western world this still looks very wrong in the sense of conforming, there is still a perceived way of being who you should be. When someone transitions it is not just difficult for that person, but for friends, partners and families.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking and fun! 13 May 2008
By Mr X
This book is invaluable on so many fronts. First of all it dispels the persistent myth about male to female transsexuals conforming in the extreme to stereotypical ideas of femininity. This new woman, Dru, (formally Drusilla, formerly Drew) feels at home being a woman; she doesn't have to discard all those useful tools picked up through male socialisation in order to feel this. She knows that these are superficial aspects of gender. She cooks, sews and she fixes engines. What is unusual in a transsexual biography and often very funny in this book is that it's mostly about her male friend's difficulties in coming to terms with this. Richard, the author and friend in question, says that Dru is a girl who likes boys things who was born into a boys body. One wonders if she would have been introduced to these `boys' things if she had been born into a girls body. But then, Richard remembers that, over the years that they have been friends, there were also plenty of other boy things that didn't appeal to Dru, such as rugby (in fact all sport) and the way men often discuss women.

Dru is much, much happier living her life as a woman. She says that before she looked normal but felt like a freak but that now she feels normal and looks like a freak. She would prefer it if everyone recognised her as a woman immediately without question but this doesn't always happen, and especially didn't happen when first starting to transition. Richard seems to be overly conscious of how he and Dru would be perceived. He frets over whether people are reading them as `a normal couple' or as `a man with a weird woman' or as `a man with a tranny'? He is often distinctly uncomfortable, for example, when Dru asks for a pint instead of a half in a pub in small town Wales. But really! How old fashioned is that?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book 20 July 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is many things - first and foremost an entertaining read. Variously moving, honest and funny, it is also an important addition to the canon of books about gender transition. And a physically nice book - an adornment to any bookshelves! - the binding and illustrations give it the feel of a real labour of love. Recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very interesting and compassionate
Published 12 days ago by Dr Sherin Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
This is a truly wonderful book, well written easy to read story of friendship. I recommend this to any book lover, its about much much more than transgender. A really lovely story.
Published 18 months ago by yolanda kenyon
5.0 out of 5 stars Becoming Drusilla, Being Fabulous
I first read this book 3 years ago and gave away my copy. I was glad to do so as I wanted to proselytise about a wonderful book. Read more
Published on 7 Jan 2012 by Shelley
5.0 out of 5 stars A very ordinary courage
Does this book need more reviews? Or did I just feel I couldn't resist having my say? I think that's it, because having found this title by chance, and then noticing that it's... Read more
Published on 24 Oct 2011 by Andie Davidson
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Deal
What an absolutely marvellous and uplifting book is 'Becoming Drusilla'. I devoured it in two sittings. Read more
Published on 16 Aug 2011 by AM
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perceptive Read
I have to declare an interest up front, I am transsexual as well and even more oddly was also born in 1958, joined the ATC and even worked for Sealink as well. Read more
Published on 21 Sep 2010 by Carol Mapley
5.0 out of 5 stars My best book of 2009.
The first thing to say is that this is an entertaining read, extremely well written. At times it dips into serious thoughts about what is transsexuality, but before it gets too... Read more
Published on 26 Dec 2009 by Tess Baxter
5.0 out of 5 stars A Journey on Every Level
Beautifully written (by Richard) and illustrated (by Dru), this gives the reader an idea of what it must be like to be stuck in the stereotype of a gender. Read more
Published on 13 Oct 2009 by Jane Wharam
5.0 out of 5 stars Strangely Touching
I often wondered what it would be like if one of my old school chums turned up as a middle-aged transexual. Would they be the same person? Read more
Published on 6 Aug 2009 by Paxmeister
5.0 out of 5 stars An unusually good book
A light, very funny, very human story which raises many interesting (and often un-asked) questions around transexuality without feeling contrived. Read more
Published on 25 Sep 2008 by Juliet Tree
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