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.

‘How big is the change from man to woman? Becoming Drusilla is a brave and intelligent book, because it is not so much an attempt to answer that question, but to strike out all the previous answers with a red pen.’
– Diane Purkiss, Daily Telegraph

‘This is a gentle, wise and touching book, full of warmth, humour, friendship and humanity (though I don’t mean to be winsome: Beard doesn’t flinch over the gory details of the operations, nor, among other things, over Dru’s heroin addiction). Like the good novelist that he is, Beard has resisted the lure of a predictable transsexual ‘transformation’ narrative and the temptation to look for answers. As a result, by the end of the book, Beard – and we along wih him – has arrived at a genuine and much more subtle understanding of what his friend has been through, and what she has become.’
– Nick Parker, Literary Review

‘A fascinating biography … [Beard] is an excellent communicator and excels at turning the academic knowledge into understandable sound bites … optimistic, poignant and ultimately uplifting.’
– Dr Harvey Rees, Bristol Review of Books

‘Excellent … enlightening and brave … not only does he write a sensitive and subtle biography, he also deconstructs his own ideas and assumptions about himself, and what it means to be a man.’
– Hot Press

‘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.

‘This book’ s genius is to tackle the life of Drusilla Marland and give us a sense of her lived experience, her ordinariness as a woman, born in a particular time, under a particular set of circumstances, in a particular culture; he gently portrays her inconsistencies and foibles, her talents and weaknesses, her courage and nobility – in other words, her humanity.

‘Beard’s graceful admission of love and humility, at the end of this gentle tribute is touching and life-affirming. This book left me marvelling about human nature. There aren’t many of those kinds of books about.’
– Dermod Moore, Irish Post

‘A wonderfully sympathetic account of how and, possibly, why Drew became Dru.’
– Val Hennessy, Critic’s Choice, Daily Mail

‘A sensitive and attractive account of a renewal of friendship . . . Beard comes to realize that the extraordinary thing about his friend is just how delightfully ordinary she is.’
– Roz Kaveney, Times Literary Supplement

‘Funny, touching and insightful.’
– The Oldie

‘Honest and deeply thoughtful . . . [a story] gently handled by this most sensitive and, at times, very humorous book.’
– reFresh magazine

‘Fascinating and funny.’
Libby Purves, Radio 4 Midweek

‘Becoming Drusilla is a remarkable story of friendship, courage and humanity. Achingly funny, bruisingly heart-rending and deeply honest and personal, the story is gracefully and humbly told and free of mawkish sentimentality.’
– Irish Independent

Becoming Drusilla Reading List

These aren’t all the books I read, but they’re the ones I found most helpful or illuminating.

Ames, Jonathan, Sexual Metamorphosis, Vintage, New York 2005
Ames, Jonathan, What’s Not to Love? Scribner, London, 2000
Ashley, April, The First Lady, John Blake, London, 2006
Angier, Natalie, Woman: An Intimate Geography, Anchor, New York, 2000
Bibby, Bob, Special Offa, Eye Books, London, 2004
Bloom, Amy, Normal, Bloomsbury, London, 2003
Boyd, Helen, My Husband Betty, Thunder’s Mouth Press, New York 2003
Bornstein, Kate, Gender Outlaw, Routledge, London, 1994
Cossey, Caroline, My Story, Faber and Faber, London, 1991
Califia, Pat, Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism, Cleis Press, San Francisco, 1997
Cherry-Garrard, Apsley, The Worst Journey in the World, Pimlico, London 2003 (Constable 1922)
Cowell, Roberta, Roberta Cowell’s Story, William Heinemann, London, 1954
Ensler, Eve, The Vagina Monologues, Virago, London, 2001
Ettner, Randi, Confessions of a Gender Defender, Chicago Spectrum Press, Chicago, 1996
Finney Boylan, Jennifer, She’s Not There, Broadway Books, New York, 2003
Greene, Graham, Travels with my Aunt, Penguin, 1971
Household, Geoffrey, Rogue Male, Chatto and Windus, London, 1939
John, Brian, Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Aurum Press, 2004
Jones, John B., Offa’s Dyke Path, HMSO, London 1976
Kafka, Franz, Metamorphosis and Other Stories, Penguin, London 1961
Kay, Ernie and Kathy and Mark Richards, Offa’s Dyke Path South, Aurum Press 2004
Kay, Ernie and Kathy and Mark Richards, Offa’s Dyke Path North, Aurum Press 2004
Morris, Jan, Conundrum, Faber and Faber, London, 1974
Morris, Jan, Pleasures of a Tangled Life, Arrow, London, 1990
Morris, Jan, Wales, Penguin, London 2000
Ovid, Metamorphoses, Penguin, London, 1955
Sinclair, Iain, Landor’s Tower, Granta, London, 2001
Thomas, David, Girl, Signet, London 1995
Wells, H.G., The Invisible Man, Oxford Classics, Oxford, (1897)
Wheeler, Sara, Terra Incognita, Vintage, London 1997

Richard Beard, writer, author, novelist, Sad Little Men, The Day That Went Missing, Acts of the Assassins, Becoming Drusilla, Manly Pursuits, UK