George Lucas

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George Lucas (born George Quirke) (1926–2014) was a gay man who worked in the Civil Service. He documented his life in a series of detailed personal diaries which he bequeathed to journalist Hugo Greenhalgh. When Greenhalgh started to examine the diaries he uncovered remarkable accounts of a man who recorded in some detail his use of male prostitutes in London, and other aspects of gay life. Lucas took a great risk in keeping the diaries as some of the entries incriminated him in matters which were criminal offences before 1967. If the police had got hold of the diaries a number of other men may well have been arrested and prosecuted. Lucas did actually destroy some diary entries to protect others [1]. The diaries are now being published on a Facebook page for Mr Lucas which is updated by Greenhalgh [2].

Mr Lucas by one of his favourite pubs The Golden Lion, Dean St.,Soho, London 3 Jun 1967 age 41. (Image courtesy Hugo Greenhalgh)
Page of the 1951 diary (Image courtesy Hugo Greenhalgh)

George Leo John Quirke was born 16 June 1926 and grew up in Chadwell Heath, Essex. He attended West Ham Grammar School (now known as St Bonaventure's ) in Forest Gate. He suffered tormenting bullying at school and refers in his diaries to 1937-39 as years of pain and fear [3]. Evacuated on 1 Sept 1939, initially to Trimley near Felixstowe and then to Clacton.

In 1941 his 'interest in homosexual activities (was) beginning' [4]. He served three years four months in The Royal Army Pay Corps leaving in January 1948. He then went to work in the War Office before rejoining the army as a commissioned officer in 1950 [5]. In October 1950 he was arrested in Germany for an indecent assault on a German young man [6]. He was court marshalled and while waiting for his appeal against sentence of six months imprisonment he was placed under close arrest. Fearing prison he was slightly relieved to be 'simply dismissed' in January 1951. He then had to be reinterviewed to return to the civil service and he was worried they might not accept him back after his 'disgrace' in Germany. However he was readmitted and posted to the Department of Trade where he spent the remainder of his working life. His latter years were lived in Clapham Park. He died 28 December 2014. His last address was 24a Mandalay Road Clapham London SW4 9EE. [7].

An unremarkable man in many ways but the legacy of his diaries now make his contribution to LGBT history important. He frequented the Piccadilly Circus area and utilised and befriended a number of rent boys.

On February 6th 2020 Mark Gatiss read extracts from Mr Lucas's diaries to a packed audience at the Bishopsgate Institute as part of LGBT History Month.


Here is one example of his description of 1950 in his diary entry for Jan 1st 1968;I look back 18 years to 1950. When I was 24, the London scene was not changed much; places, buildings, familiar to the homosexual world of 1950 had been familiar for a long time.And how many there were - the public rendezvous at Marble Arch and Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, the numerous gay bars: the Standard in Piccadilly Circus, the celebrated Fitzroy in Rathbone Place, the Bunch of Grapes on the south side of the Strand, with its stone canopy carved in form of a cornucopia over the door, Rainbow Corner by the Monico in Shaftesbury Avenue… and, of course, the lavatories of the “Grand Tour”; starting with Falconberg Court and ending at York Place [8].

References

  1. Following arrest in Germany in 1950 while serving in the army, Lucas destroyed all the earlier pages of my 1950 diary for fear of possible scrutiny that might incriminate any of the lads I have been friendly with (Diary entry 19 Oct 1950)
  2. https://www.facebook.com/mrlucas1927/
  3. Diary entry 21 Jul 1979 when he visits Forest Gate and reflects on when he was there 40 years earlier
  4. Diary entries of 27 Aug 1979 and 31 Aug 1979 reflect on and refer to his first sex in a public lavatory in St Chad's Park in 1941, when he was not quite 15 years old. He visits the park and takes a photo of the lavatory
  5. Lieutenant 56635 BAOR Store Audit Section
  6. Lucas was arrested by the German Police and accused of indecent assault on a German young man in a lavatory on the Kleverplatz in Dusselldorf. Lucas in his diary claims the young man was encouraging him to approach and had began masturbating. Lucas denied assaulting the young man. The German police handed him over to the military police. Lucas expected to get at least 9 months imprisonment and possibly 3 years. On 20 Nov 1950 he was found guilty at a court martial, cashiered and sentenced to 6 months imprisonment. He appealed against the sentence. Diary entries of George Lucas 1950 (courtesy Hugo Greenhalgh)
  7. The Gazette notice https://www.thegazette.co.uk/notice/3165566
  8. https://www.facebook.com/mrlucas1927/posts/1137067069803920?__tn__=K-R