Norman Haire and the study of sex
Sydney University Press
A star debater at school, Norman Haire had always wanted to be an actor. Forced to study medicine, he followed his other passion: saving the world from sexual misery. When he arrived in London in 1919 he was a poor Jewish outsider from Australia. By 1930 he had a flourishing gynaecology practice in Harley Street, a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce and a country house. His parties were attended by the medical, intellectual and cultural elite.
As a prominent sexologist and a campaigner for birth control, Haire took a leading role in the world's first international conference on birth control in 1922 and organised, with Dora Russell, the World League for Sexual Reform's highly successful 1929 Congress in London. He lectured in America, Germany, France and Spain, and wrote and edited many accessible books on sex education.
In 1940 Haire returned to Australia where he attracted a loyal following, but was also hounded by the security service. The ABC Board was censured in parliament for choosing him as the key speaker in a population debate, and his weekly advice column in the magazine Woman was strongly opposed by the Catholic Church. Peter Coleman called Haire 'one of Australia's most famous freethinkers and sex reformers'. This biography pays a tribute to this tenacious, humane, witty, innovative and brave man's contribution to birth control, sexology and human rights history.
About the author
After completing a PhD in history from the University of Sydney, Diana Wyndham was awarded a Norman Haire Fellowship from the University's Faculty of Medicine in 1998. Her books include Populate and perish: Australian women's fight for birth control (written with Stephania Siedlecky, 1990) and Eugenics in Australia: striving for national fitness (2003).