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Featured Artist: Pagan Kennedy
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Pagan Kennedy is the author of eight previous books in a variety of genres, including novels and non-fiction narratives. Her recent biography, Black Livingstone: A True Tale of Adventure in the 19th-Century Congo, made the New York Times Notable list of 2002 and won a Massachusetts Book Award Honor in nonfiction. A novel, Spinsters, was short-listed for the Orange Prize. She also has been the recipient of a Barnes & Noble Discover Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in fiction. As a science journalist for the New York Times Magazine and the Boston Globe Magazine, she has ridden in a car powered by vegetable oil, interviewed the world's smartest parrot, and toured a room that houses 3,000 human brains. Pagan has been described as a "modern-day Chekhov" (San Francisco Chronicle) and "one of the best writers of her generation," (Scotland on Sunday). She has lived in Somerville for nine years.

Artist photo courtesty of Mathew Schwartz




The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution

Pagan Kennedy reports on the most unusual love story of the 20th century. Coming from Bloomsbury in March 2007.
In 1950, Michael Dillon, a scion of British aristocracy, guarded an astonishing secret about himself. Born Laura Dillon, he had endured the world's first female-to-male sex change in late 1930s and 1940s. This was at a time when few people, even top doctors, had any idea that it was possible to change sex at all. Now bearded and broad-shouldered, with a pipe tucked into his pocket, he easily passed as a true-born gentleman. But Dillon lived in terror of discovery - if word got out, his story would be trumpeted by tabloid newspapers all over the world.

In 1950, Roberta Cowell dreamed of finally completing her transition from man to woman. She had managed, with the aid of estrogen and a wig, to look like Marilyn Monroe; but British law prevented her from obtaining the surgery that she would need to finally shed the last vestiges of manhood.

When Michael Dillon met Roberta Cowell , he was love-struck - and willing to do anything to help her. He would even risk imprisonment and murder charges. She was the only other transsexual in all of England, and the only woman who could really understand him.

Eight years later, Michael Dillon fled to India, where he began a quest to wrestle control of his mind. Dillon became the first Westerner
ever to take vows as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He died in the Himalayas.

The First Man-Made Man tells one of the most incredible life stories of the 20th century. The book also leads readers through the medical breakthroughs that would forever change the rules of living in a human body. In the 1920s, people could not do much to alter their noses or breasts or muscles. But only a few decades later, hormones and plastic surgery became the rage: now patients could reshape their own flesh, could make their bodies fit their aspirations. It was a medical revolution with enormous implications for everyone - both transsexuals and non-transsexuals alike.

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