At the tender age of 14, Harry Young decided to dress solely as a woman: the birth of Diamond Lil.
His true story is told in the musical drama Diamond at The Dome in Brighton from Monday, June 3 to Sunday, June 9.
Wandering the streets of Bethnal Green in heels, frock and makeup, Diamond Lil became one of the East End’s most memorable characters.
The show is set during World War Two and tells the story of Lil, her tempestuous relationship with partner Maisie, and the colourful characters in her community.
Drag artist Dave Lynn will be Lil, alongside an ensemble cast including Stephen Richards
as Lil’s brother Bill.
The piece has been written by Linda Wilkinson, inspired by her book Watercress But No Sandwiches –300 years of the Columbia Road Area, telling the stories of the old Eastenders,
Linda grew up in Bethnall Green and as a child knew Lil.
“As a child growing up, Lil was this glamorous figure who raised spirits and kept everyone smiling. She enlivened our lives, and we thought he really was a she. I have pieced together her life from interviews with people who knew her, from her partner Maisie’s living relatives and my own recollections.
“The most astounding thing is the way that she was totally accepted within her community and was a central pillar in the dark days of war. This is a real slice of life about Columbia Road during World War Two. To this day people still talk about Diamond Lil.”
Promoter Glenda Harkess said: “With music by Robert Orledge, this version of the story is a delicious, bawdy, at times tragic, romp - full of fun, poignancy and drama with toe-tapping tunes, show-stopping numbers and dancing to boot! Don’t miss the Brighton premiere of this extraordinary story about courage, community, glamour and glitz.”
Tickets on 01273 709709 or www.brightondome.org