Partner Willem Van de Haght

Queer Places:
127 Harley St, Marylebone, London W1G 9QY, UK
Nettleden Lodge, Berkhamsted HP4 1NS, UK

Norman Haire, born Norman Zions (21 January 1892, Sydney – 11 September 1952, London) was an Australian medical practitioner and sexologist. He has been called "the most prominent sexologist in Britain" between the wars.[1] He had never married, and left his estate, including his library and papers to the University of Sydney which founded the Norman Haire research fellowship. He left a bequest to his lifelong companion Willem Van de Haght (the former administrator of the Rotterdam Zoo), who also ran a contraceptive export business.

Norman was born in Sydney, the eleventh and last child of Henry Zions, né Zajac, a Polish-born Jew and his English wife. Norman studied medicine at the University of Sydney, and gained an MB and Ch.M, in 1915. After a short spell at a hospital in Brisbane, he was a captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps for the duration of the war.

In 1919 he worked his passage to Europe, and changed his surname to Haire (Polish 'zajac' = hare).

In 1920 he visited Berlin, Magnus Hirschfeld and the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft. He quickly became fluent in German, and introduced German publication on sexual science to English-speaking readers.

Also in 1920 he attended a meeting of the Malthusian League, and was appointed medical officer-in-charge at the Walworth Women's Welfare Centre, one of the earliest birth-control clinics.

He contacted, corresponded with and frequently met Havelock Ellis. He was a member of the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology, the International Medical Group for the Investigation of Birth Control, and the Eugenics Education Society.

In 1925 he opened a private practice in Harley Street, and was notoriously an expensive consultant. He pioneered the Haire vaginal pessary as a form of birth control, and introduced into Britain the Grafenberg 'silver' ring, an intra-uterine device. He followed the methods of Eugen Steinach in attempting male sexual rejuvenation by bilateral vasectomy.

In 1927 Haire published his major book, Hymen. As secretary of the World League for Sexual Reform, he organized its third congress in London in 1929. He edited the proceedings, a massive 670-page volume, and published them a year later. He was president of the league from 1930. In 1931, the league protested that transsexual Norma Jackson had been sentenced to 18 months hard labour. In the mid-1930s he acquired a country estate at Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.

In 1933 Haire wrote the introduction to the English translation of Lili Elvenes (Elbe)'s biography. In 1934 he edited The Encyclopaedia of Sexual Knowledge, mainly written by Arthur Koestler (as Alfrede Costler). In 1936 he was involved in the publication of Sexual Anomalies and Perversions, based on Hirschfeld's writings. Until the 1991 translation of Die Transvestiten, this is the Hirschfeld book used by most English sexologists.

The World League for Sexual Reform fell apart that same year, the German chapter having been destroyed by the Nazi government, but Haire continued as the president of the British off-shoot, the Sex Education Society.

Although he did not drink alcohol, Haire was known for his appetite and his joy in food. By the late 1930s he had been diagnosed as diabetic and nephritic. In 1940, shorty after war broke out, he returned to Australia. He pleaded health reasons, but was accused of cowardice.

He opened an expensive practice in Sydney, but also lectured for the Workers' Educational Association and the New Education Fellowship, and spoke on the wireless. He took up acting, and was well reviewed for his performance in Bernard Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma. Using the name Wykeham Terris, he wrote a series of articles for the weekly magazine, Woman, a pioneering series discussing sex-education, pregnancy and childbirth issues, gynaecological disorders and venereal disease.

In 1944 he appeared in a debate on the Australian Broadcasting Commission's 'Nation's Forum of the Air' arguing that population should be limited. Afterwards he was strongly denounced in the House of Representatives. He was soon ready to return to London, and did so in 1946, but not before completing his book on Havelock Ellis.

However many of his old associates were dead, and others avoided him. He tried to revive the Sex Education Society, and founded and partly financed the Journal of Sex Education (1948-52).

On a trip to the US he suffered a heart attack, and never completely recovered. He died of ischaemic cardiac failure in 1952.

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