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Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival

Staff Pick

Yes, we may have overused “the British are coming, the British are coming!” this past fall, but that’s only because the inaugural Charleston to Charleston Literay Festival had arrived. The logophile’s fest was presented by the Charleston Library Society and The Charleston Trust U.K., and included four days full of literary gems. Our favorite part though? The Charleston to Charleston connection. We chatted with author Edward Ball in advance of the fest, who told us about the subject of his book, Peninsula of Lies, the fascinating Dawn Pepita Simmons. Simmons, born a male named Gordon Langley Hall in the ‘30s, was the son of servants with auspicious connections — Dawn’s parents worked for author and gardener Vita Sackville-West (Virginia Woolf’s friend and lover). Eventually, Dawn would make her way to the states, settling in Charleston and scandalizing the city with her sex reassignment surgery and interracial marriage. Dawn’s story is sad but important, as Ball says, “I think if Dawn were alive today she would not have been victimized, she was made to suffer.” — Mary Scott Hardaway

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