When identical twins, June and Jennifer Gibbons were three they began to reject communication with anyone but each other, and so began a childhood bound together in a strange and secret world.
As they grew up, love, hate and genius united to push them to the extreme margins of society and, following a five week spree of vandalism and arson, the silent twins were sentenced to a gruelling twelve-year detention in Broadmoor.
Award-winning investigative journalist Marjorie Wallace delves into the twins' silent world, revealing their genius, alienation and the mystic bond by which the extremes of good and evil ended in possession and death.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 320 pages, facsimiles, portraits
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 18/04/1996
- Category: True crime
- ISBN: 9780099586418
Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.
Review by coolmama
Wow.....I had never heard of this bizarre case! I am amazed there is not more written or more documentaries about these two!!!Jennifer and June Gibbons were one of the only black families in Haverfordwest, Wales on the RAF base in the 1960s and 1970s. They, along with their 3 other siblings and parents grew up on the estate not only with a special twin language, but being electively mute. This odd behavior continued throughout their schooling where they sent to a special school and had specialists attempt to socialize them. They also had oddly sychnronized movements that mirrored eachother. All attempts to make them talk or interact with others failed.Dropping out of school at 16, they stayed in their room all the time never interacting with the other members of their family. They wrote notes to their parents, or left their bedrooms when the others were asleep. They experimented with drugs, drink, and sex. This lead to arson and petty crimes.This biography is told mainly through their own words - for although they only talked/competed with eachother they each kept a detailed diary. The author met the young adults while they were kept an insane assylum in Britain.This is one of the most incredible stories I have ever heard.
Review by lilywren
The Silent Twins is about identical twins June and Jennifer Gibbons who were born on 11th April 1963. They spent most of their lives living in their own impenetrable world. June and Jennifer knew what each other felt and thought but they were silent to most people outside of their world, despite having the physical ability to speak. The twins confounded teachers, speech therapist, specialist educational schools and psychologists who crossed their paths. However, a battle raged between the two girls who loved, controlled and hated each other in equal measures.The author pulls together the story of their experiences through meeting with the twins, their family and countless professionals who were involved in their care and also in using accounts from their diaries. The twins were, at one point, very prolific writers both in diary form and in fiction. Wallace is able to put across the differences in personalities between the twins and also the emotional battles of control and power they had with each other.Ultimately, the story is a tale of how the 'system' in particular, mental health system, failed two girls whom they didn't know how to support. The girls started to experiment with drink, drugs, bad boys and petty crime in their mid-teens and were eventually caught and charged with vandalism and arson.After a year spent on remand awaiting their trial, the girls were finally found guilty and sent to Broadmoor high security psyhicatric hospital for an indefinite period of time. For those not familiar with the name, Broadmoor houses some of the most dangerous offenders, examples including Peter Sutcliffe (Yorksire Ripper), Charles Bronson and Ronald Kray. June and Jennifer ended up here merely by default. There were no secure, hospital facilities around which could take on twins with such unique behavioural issues so they ended up at Broadmoor which in itself hadn't reallly got the appropriate tools for supporting the teenage girls."Jennifer and June could never come to terms with the fact that they had been given what amounted to a life sentence for vandalism and three counts of arson, when other teenages guilty of far more serious crimes, often involving bodily harm, would spend, at most, a few months in prison" Wallace sums up. (p.255).The book gives a fascinating insight into this sad story. Woven throughout the story is the difficultly the twins have both being together and being apart. They felt that, sadly, it wouldn't be until one of them dies that the other would be 'free'."Without my Shadow would I die?Without my shadow would I gain life?Be free or left to die?" by June Gibbons.