BOHEMIAN WEEKENDER - Press release

Bohemian Weekender with Betty May, Dylan Thomas & Friends.

The Fitzroy Tavern 16 Charlotte Street London W1T 2NA Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th.

Celebrating the launch of Sally Fiber’s The Fitzroy - An autobiography of a London Tavern, and Tiger Woman - My Story by Betty May.

Two magnificent Books - one great event.

The event will consist of an introduction and history of the Bohemians who created the term Fitzrovia, now being the official name for the Central London area, as recognised by the Post Office.

The Fitzroy. Sally Fiber will talk about how The Fitzroy was adopted by The Bohemians and provide stories about legendary customers such as Jacob Epstein, Augustus John, Nina Hamnett, Betty May and Dylan Thomas, as well as numerous others. She will also provide an insight into her unique family life at the pub, its celebrity customers including the late Richard Attenborough, the Charity started by her Grandfather and how it’s being revived today. ‘Fitzrovian Pennies’ will help a new generation of Children to celebrate and cultivate creativity in their lives and careers.

This is a valuable and rare opportunity to listen to an original Fitzrovian, as Sally was conceived and born at The Fitzroy in 1936.

Tiger Woman - My Story was written by Betty May in 1929 tells of Betty’s impoverished childhood and escape to Bohemian bonhomie. The book, now the basis for the upcoming Musical Stage production Betty May - Tiger Woman versus The Beast, is re-published by Duckworth and celebrated at the event by an exclusive cabaret style performance from the writer Miss Celine Hispiche and composer Philippe Jakko.

The show will consist of songs from the musical as well as a specially written song by Celine Hispiche celebrating the ‘flirtatious’ relationship between Betty May and Dylan Thomas titled ‘Cats and Dogs’.

Special guests during the afternoon will provide first hand knowledge and insight in to this fascinating era and the people who made it their own.

Copies of both books will be available for sale.

3 - 6pm Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th October 2014. The Fitzroy Tavern 16 Charlotte Street London W1T 2NA

Historical Novel Review - Tiger Woman

Book Synopsis - click to go to book review
The incredible life story that inspired the forthcoming new musical, Tiger Woman Versus The BeastDancer, singer, gang member, cocaine addict and sometime confectionist, Betty May’s autobiography Tiger Woman thrilled and appalled the public when her story first appeared at the end of the roaring twenties.‘I have often lived only for pleasure and excitement but you will see that I came to it by unexpected ways’ Born into abject squalor in London’s Limehouse area, May used her steely-eyed, striking looks and street nous to become an unlikely bohemian celebrity sensation, a fixture at the Café Royal, London, marrying four times along the way alongside numerous affairs. ‘I wondered why men would not leave me alone. They were alright at first when they offered to show one life, and then at once they became a nuisance’ She elbowed her way to the top of London’s social scene in a series of outrageous and dramatic fights, flights, marriages and misadventures that also took her to France, Italy, Canada and the USA. ‘I learnt one thing on my honeymoon – to take drugs’ Her most fateful adversary was occultist and self-proclaimed ‘Great Beast’ Aleister Crowley, who intended her to be a sacrificial victim of his Thelemite cult in Sicily, but it was her husband – Oxford undergraduate Raoul Loveday – who died, after conducting a blood sacrifice ritual. Betty May’s vitality and ferocious charisma enchanted numerous artistic figures including Jacob Epstein and Jacob Kramer. A heroine like no other, this is her incredible story in her own words, as fresh and extraordinary as the day it was first told.

London Historians' Blog

Review: Tiger Woman, My Story – Betty May (1929) New Edition July 2014

A guest post by LH Member, Jane Young

Tiger Woman This is a strange little memoir. Certainly more memoir than autobiography as it is quite likely that many aspects of this lady’s life that must have gone hand in hand with the events described have been left out.

It is written in a sensationalist tone and intended to shock. Which when published in 1929 it undoubtedly would have achieved. The self-congratulatory narrative does absolutely nothing to warm the reader to the writer whom it is difficult to not dislike intensely by the end of the book.

Having said that, it is however an interesting account of low life in the early twentieth century. Set largely in London but also travelling to the West Country, Paris and Sicily the colourful descriptions of all that is sordid are executed with skill, alongside attention to detail in noting domestic interiors, clothes and food, all with the unmatched accuracy of a sharp mercenary eye. Betty May measures success by her expertise in sponging and ability to have others pay for her, which though unsurprising given the childhood described therein, still remains a distasteful tale.

Nonetheless there is the impression that even in this supposedly frank rendition she is playing some sort of self serving part as is made clear in the introduction: “I am going to tell my story in the same sort of way I have lived my life”

You are left with a prevailing sadness and still wondering who the real Betty May was. The book is not a joy to read but is an odd little piece of social history and thus worth reading for that alone.

Tiger Woman My Story has been republished to coincide with a new musical portraying the life of Betty May which has excellent credentials and very good reviews: BettyMayTheMusical.com A percentage from the sale of this book goes towards supporting the production, therefore a foreword explaining the impetus for publication would have been a worthwhile inclusion.

Amazon - Customer review

5.0 out of 5 stars
An incredible story of a shocking life, 24 Aug 2014
By Great Historicals (Canada and USA)
This review is from: Tiger Woman (Paperback)
When Betty May wrote her autobiography in 1929, her debauched life story shocked society at the time. Now, nearly a century later, the book continues to have the same effect. When I began reading, I was immediately drawn to her narrative, one that was brutally honest and insightful. I could not help but feel sorry for Betty as she described her terrible childhood and the lack of love and attention she was denied by her parents and their circumstances. As the story progressed, I continued to be shocked by the ease into which she fell into a wayward life, partly for the sake of survival and partly for an inner coldness she seemed to possess that helped her survive.

From the first page to the last, I was fascinated by all that she had experienced. From satanism, her numerous husbands and failed marriages, sexual encounters, prostitution, life and death threats, crimes, and drug addiction, it would be an understatement to say she lived a colorful life.

It's not a long book, but Betty May definitely had a talent for writing for her escapades are relayed in a vibrant, shocking manner. I have to say, this is one of the most gripping autobiographies I have ever written. It is no surprise that it has endured for nearly a century. A truly fascinating woman and a tale of survival!