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Atlantic Books acquires The Diaries of Mr Lucas

16th May 2022

Atlantic Books is delighted to announce the acquisition of The Diaries of Mr Lucas, a vivid, one-of-a-kind account of queer life in London prior to the partial decriminalisation of gay sex in 1967, by journalist Hugo Greenhalgh.

James Pulford, senior editor at Atlantic Books, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Eli Keren, associate literary agent at United Agents. Audio rights were sold to W. F. Howes. Translation and adaptation rights are handled by United Agents. The Diaries of Mr Lucas will be published in hardback and eBook in May 2024.

For 60 years Mr Lucas lived a double life. By day he was a high-ranking civil servant at the Board of Trade, but by night – unable to live openly as a gay man – he was a fixture of London’s underground queer scene. He was also an obsessive diary writer.

Starting in 1960, Mr Lucas had a passionate and fraught affair with Peter Byrne, a rent-boy, petty criminal and friend of the Kray twins. Between them, Lucas and Byrne represent the spectrum of gay criminality prior to the partial decriminalisation of gay sex in 1967.

Decades later, while researching a documentary about male prostitution, journalist Hugo Greenhalgh met Mr Lucas and discovered his staggering record of queer life in the capital. When Mr Lucas died in 2014 he left the diaries to Hugo.

In The Diaries of Mr Lucas, Hugo guides readers through Lucas and Byrne’s relationship, and Lucas and Byrne lead readers from the respectable life of an affluent Londoner into the murky world of the capital’s ‘meat market’ and, eventually, face-to-face with the Kray twins themselves. Between Mr Lucas’s heart-wrenching and deliciously indiscreet diary entries, and Hugo’s razor-sharp insights, they uncover a period of LGBTQ+ history that has been written out of the official record.

In 2019, Mark Gatiss gave a sold-out reading from the diaries at London’s Bishopsgate Institute.

Hugo Greenhalgh has been a journalist for more than 25 years, mainly for the Financial Times and now, for the past four years, as the LGBTQ+ editor of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the corporate foundation of Thomson Reuters, the global news and information services company.

Hugo Greenhalgh says:

‘I am incredibly excited to see The Diaries of Mr Lucas make it into print. I knew Mr Lucas – never George, as that would be too informal – for almost 20 years before he died in 2014. He would be delighted to know that his diaries, a vivid record of a lost queer London, will soon be read more widely. As soon as I saw them I knew the diaries were gold dust: a mixture of waspish daily entries, detailing the sex he had with guardsmen and male prostitutes, and photographs, clippings and all manner of collected ephemera; they offer a glimpse into a life led, sometimes literally, in the shadows. But now, as he emerges, blinking, into the sunlight, the diaries will stand as one of the definitive records of queer life in the 1960s.’

James Pulford says:

‘Mr Lucas’s diaries are often very funny, sometimes sad, occasionally sleazy,  usually indiscreet and at times outrageous, but they are never less than utterly enthralling; they give an extraordinary, unvarnished account of a London – and a way of life – that have ceased to exist, and they couldn’t have found a better custodian than Hugo, whose intelligence, wit and commitment to LGBTQ+ activism will make this an unforgettable account of queer life. We’re thrilled to be publishing The Diaries of Mr Lucas.’