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Gay History, Gay Celebrities, Gay Icons

Gay History celebrates the lives of famous gay men, gay celebrities and gay icons from the worlds of Film/TV, Art, Design, Music, Literature, Business and Politics. 200+ Intimate Profiles - Tchaikovsky to George Michael, Oscar Wilde to Truman Capote, Salvador Dali to David Hockney, Yves St Laurent to Gianni Versace, Rock Hudson to Stephen Fry to name but a few - they form a vast and exciting part of gay history.
Tom Driberg

Life Span: Born 1905; Died 12th August 1976, London, UK

Star Sign: Unknown
Famous As: British journalist and MP
Family: Tom Driberg was from a middle class family but was very aware of poor living conditions of the local working class families in his village. His father, John James Street Driberg, spent his entire career in India, first in the Army and then in the Indian civil service where he became Chief of Police and Inspector of Jails for the Province of Assam. He died in 1919 when Tom Driberg was 14. His mother was Amy Mary who belonged to the Bell clan of Dumfriesshire. He had two brothers, Jack Herbert and James Douglas Driberg, who were 15 and 17 years older than him.

Education: Driberg was sent to the independent fee-paying boys' preparatory school at Crowborough, Sussex. He then went as a day-boy to a local school called the Grange. It was here at the age of eleven where he began sexual experimentation with other boys. He then went to Lancing where he came to know Evelyn Waugh. While at Lancing he started to take an interest in politics and to develop socialist leanings. During one of the holidays he joined the Brighton branch of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Two of the other boys at Lancing complained to the housemaster about Tom Driberg's unwelcome advances. He was punished and left Lancing a term early under a cloud. For a few months he worked as a schoolmaster, teaching English at a preparatory school in Bournemouth. He went to Christ Church, Oxford, and began to take part in the decadent lifestyle.

Work: He wanted to become a journalist but could not see a way of achieving it. He moved to London and took a top-floor room in Frith Street. He signed on with Jay theatrical employment agency in Shaftesbury Avenue. One of the jobs he was given was to sit as an extra in the audience of Queen's Hall for a concert in the silent film The Constant Nymph, directed by Basil Dean. However, he soon had no money to pay rent, but was fortunate to find an all-night café in Church Street (later Romily Street) where he was given a job as a waiter from 6 pm to 6 am. He slept upstairs with the two other workers. Above them was a brothel. He found that he was having to deal with a motley bunch of customers and to some extent this cured him of his shyness. This was a happy period for him but when Edith Sitwell got to know of his circumstances she was horrified and arranged for Beverley Baxter, who was managing editor of the Daily Express to consider him for a job, and in January 1928 he was taken on as a reporter. Within a month he had a scoop when he discovered the arrival of the Moral Re-Armament movement. The story was run on for several days starting on the front page on 28th. February, 1928. He continued to take an interest in the movement and in the 1950s was invited to lecture on the subject at Oslo and Göteborg universities. His friend David Ferrer of Secker & Warberg also commissioned a book which came out in 1964 as The Mystery of Moral Re-Armament.
After a few months Tom Driberg was transferred to help Peter Sewell write his column of social gossip Talk of London. After Peter Sewell retired Tom Driberg took over. In May 1933 the proprietor Lord Beaverbrook (Max Aitken) decided that the column should be replaced by something in the style used by Time magazine in the USA. The new column was headed These Names Make News. Then Lord Beaverbrook decided that it should be signed pseudonymously as William Hickey after the late eighteenth century diarist. Tom Driberg wrote the column until 1943, but also did much travelling to cover major news stories.
In about 1941 Tom Driberg was expelled from the Communist Party, although he was never told why. However, this turned out to be useful when he was campaigning to become an MP. In 1942 he was elected as an independent MP for Maldon in Essex. Three years later he held the seat as a Labour MP, and in 1950 he was elected as the Labour MP for Barking.
He left the Express in June 1943 after being sacked by the editor who thought that his parliamentary activities conflicted with his journalism. He was then given a job by Bill Richardson, the editor of Reynold News, a left-wing Sunday newspaper belonging to the Co-operative movement. He wrote a column under his own name which was more political. The paper became the Sunday Citizen in 1962, but in 1966 Tom Driberg was sacked because the paper could no longer afford his salary. The paper closed in 1967. He subsequently worked freelance and contributed to the "London Diary' of the New Statesman, and wrote book reviews for the monthly Books and Bookman.
In 1949 the Labour Party conference elected him to the National Executive Committee, and he was re-elected every year from 1950 to 1972. In January 1954 he visited Rupert Croft-Cooke who was in Brixton prison after a conviction for gross indecency.
In 1956 Tom Driberg was temporarily out of Parliament and was working more or less full-time as a journalist. He travelled to Moscow to see the spy Guy Burgess to get the story of his disappearance from London with Donald Maclean. The story appeared in Guy Burgess: A Portrait with Background.
Tom Driberg was chair of the Labour Party in 1957-58 and in 1965 he was appointed as a Privy Counsellor. He had been an MP for thirty years when he retired in February 1974. In the early 1970s he anonymously compiled the crossword puzzles for Private Eye. In 1975 he was made a life peer and became Lord Bradwell.

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