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Charlotte Bach towards the end of her life, taken from a forthcoming documentary
|Other names||Charlotte Bach, Karoly Hajdu, Baron Carl Hajdu|
|Known for||Evolutionary Theorist|
Karoly Hajdu (1920–1981), better-known as Dr Charlotte Bach, was a Hungarian-British impostor who later in life became a trans woman and fringe evolutionary theorist. She developed an alternative theory of evolution which acquired a cult following among prominent writers and scientists in the London of the 1970s. They, without exception, remained ignorant of her true identity until after her death.
Life as a man
Hajdu was born near Budapest in 1920. In the wake of World War II he moved to England and in 1948 began to use the name Baron Carl Hajdu. In 1956 he collected money for Hungarian freedom fighters resisting the then Soviet occupation. The People, which specialised in lurid exposés, alleged that Hajdu had pocketed the proceeds. He was found guilty of fraud in 1957, and was forced into bankruptcy.
Hajdu then adopted the persona of writer and society hypnotherapist Michel Karoly. He rented an apartment in Mayfair. He began to acquire a following in polite society, and wrote an agony uncle column in a mass-selling magazine of the day. Karoly continued in this role until 1965, when both his wife and stepson suddenly died. He was declared bankrupt again, and in 1966 was sentenced to two months in gaol for acquiring a loan whilst bankrupt.
By her own account, the sudden deaths had precipitated a profound identity crisis.
Life as a woman
In 1968, Hajdu adopted the new identity of Dr Charlotte Bach, a supposed former lecturer at Budapest's Eötvös Loránd University, whose alumni included the philosophers Michael and Karl Polanyi and the mathematician John von Neumann.
'Dr Bach' would openly tell lecture audiences how at first, putting ads in the windows of local newsagents, she had worked as a dominatrix. This experience had provided invaluable research data, she said, for the purpose of compiling a dictionary of psychology. These researches had in turn led to the all-embracing theory.
She lived full-time as Charlotte Bach until she died. She was thus what is sometimes referred to as a non-op trans woman.
In 1971 Bach unveiled her transformative, as she would insist, theory of evolution. Among other things, she argued, it correctly displaced Darwinism in favour of Lamarckism. Drawing heavily on the work of animal ethologists such as Tinbergen and Konrad Lorenz, she argued that humans experience in varying degrees a pull towards becoming the opposite sex. This urge could either be denied or asseverated: gays and femme lesbians, for example, are women in men’s bodies or vice versa, but transvestites and butch lesbians are not. This gave rise to eight possible permutations.
This deep-seated and ineradicable phenomenon, she argued, was the true engine of evolutionary change. It was also the key to the proper understanding of culture—including science, politics and religion. Upon such reasoning, backed up by a polymathic accumulation of supporting evidence and a forceful lecturing style, she elaborated what she called the science of Human Ethology.
Eminent scientists who sought to engage with the apparent challenges of Bach's theory included the biologist Brian Goodwin and W. Grey Walter, a pioneer of cybernetics and former head of the Burden Neurological Institute in Bristol.
Bach attracted the interest in particular of the English writer Colin Wilson, as well as of a number of eminent British scientists and academics. Wilson began to write about her theory. Bach became a cult figure. A small group of followers who would gather at her home at Holly Lodge in Highgate, while weekly lectures would take place elsewhere. An Institute of Human Ethology was set up to promote her ideas and stimulate further research. Her literary executors included the then professor of educational technology at Britain's Open University. She was invited to speak at Sussex University and at Darwin College, Cambridge, named in honour of the man most of whose ideas she wished to consign to the dustbin.
In due course, leading members of London's then burgeoning Gay Liberation movement—equally ignorant of Bach's true identity—took up human ethology and started publishing pamphlets of their own, much attracted by the tantalising notion of homosexuals as the vanguard of evolutionary change.
Bach continued to elaborate upon her original thesis up to the time of her death in 1981.
- Dr. Charles Moser (1999-10-10). "Addressing the Healthcare Needs of Sexual Minority Patients". Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality. 2. Retrieved 2009-01-26.
- Wilson, Colin (1988). The Misfits. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc. pp. 15–32. ISBN 0-88184-589-2.
- Wheen, Francis (2002), Who was Dr Charlotte Bach?, London: Short Books, ISBN 1-904095-39-9
- Wilson, Colin (1988), The Misfits: A Study of Sexual Outsiders, London: Grafton, pp. Chps 1–2, ISBN 0-246-12974-3
- Bach, Charlotte M.; Mellors, Bob (c. 1985), An outline of human ethology (4 volumes), Another-Orbit Press, OCLC 33346846, retrieved 2011-09-26
- Biographical sketch of Charlotte Bach, The Guardian, 28 September 2002
- Works by or about Charlotte Bach in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Charlotte Bach.org: website of documentary currently in production
- A Gender Variance Who's Who
- A recent account of Charlotte Bach's evolutionary theory in the light of 3 decades of development in biology and ethology since 1982