A change for good

About the book

Research scientist John Thorp began life with the outward appearance of a female but with the mind and spirit of a male. With puberty came increasing confusion and distress. Although graduating MSc and then PhD and lecturing in chemistry at Guy's Hospital Medical School, the young Josephine (Jo) Thorp faced derision and isolation from society. The story, candid and often funny as well as piercingly sad, overwhelmingly shows what is not understood is often feared and mocked. The only escape from a lonely non-life seemed to be suicide. Rejection brought Jo Thorp right to the brink. In one of the rarest of love stories a woman named Joan - much older, married and with children - saw through the outward Jo to the inner John. They fell in love. With her steadfast support, Jo was inspired to endure the operations and treatments to turn him into John.

Hounding by reporters out to titillate their readers sent John and Joan to New Zealand. She became a much sought-after teacher, he a lecturer at Auckland University and later a researcher at the former DSIR, making a name in his field. But even in New Zealand the hounding wasn't over . . .

A Change for the Good is also an extraordinary love story. Two love stories, for after Joan's eventual death John was to marry again, another remarkable woman who has always looked clear-eyed at a remarkable man, and worked with him to make a strong and loving marriage.


Unsensational but always frank, a scientist's own simply-worded story, here is a book that will be widely discussed. It can't fail to make readers look into their own hearts and minds.