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Karoly Hajdu

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Karoly Hajdu (1920-1981) was a Hungarian-born impostor turned fringe evolutionary theorist.

Born near Budapest in 1920, Hajdu in the wake of World War II moved to England, and in 1948 began to use the name Baron Carl Hajdu. In 1956 he collected money for Hungarian freedom fighters resisting the then Soviet occupation but, it was later revealed, had pocketed all the proceeds. Hajdu was sentenced for fraud in 1957, and was duly forced into bankruptcy.

Hajdu then adopted the persona of author and society hypnotherapist Michel Karoly and rented a posh apartment in Mayfair. He became quite popular in polite society, and even sustained a column in a mass-selling magazine of the time as what today might be called an agony uncle. Karoly continued in this role until 1965 when his wife and his lover each died, and he again went bust. In 1966 he was sentenced to two months in jail for taking out a loan whilst bankrupt.

In 1968 he adopted the new and most spectacular role of Dr Charlotte Bach, a supposed former lecturer at Budapest's illustrious Eötvös Loránd University, whose alumni include the philosophers Michael and Karl Polanyi and the mathematician John von Neuman, godfather of the cybernetic revolution and one of the greatest scientists of modern times. At first occasionally and bizarrely working as a dominatrix, she lived full-time as Charlotte Bach until she died. Bach was thus what is sometimes referred to as a non-op transgendered person. In 1971 she announced her new theory of evolution which, she insisted, displaced Darwinism in favour of Lamarckism.

Bach argued that humans actually experience a pull towards becoming the opposite sex, and that this urge can either be denied or 'asseverated'. (Gays and femme lesbians are women in men’s bodies or vice versa, but transvestites and butch lesbians are not; and this gives rise to eight possible permutations.) Upon such reasoning, backed up by a polymathic accumulation of supporting evidence, she built her alternative theory of evolution, known as Human Ethology.

Bach attracted the interest of the English writer Colin Wilson, as well as of a number of eminent British scientists and academics. Wilson began to write about her theory, and Bach became a cult figure, with a small group of followers who would gather at her home in Highgate. An Institute of Human Ethology was set up to promote her ideas and stimulate further research. She was even invited to speak at Darwin College, Cambridge and Sussex University. She continued to elaborate upon her original thesis up to the time of her death in 1981.

Only then was it revealed to the faithful that Charlotte had practiced what she preached: the autopsy disclosed that she had in fact been an anatomical male.

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