Earl Lind (Ralph Werther-Jennie June): The Riddle of the Underworld, Prologue I. How I Came to Write This Book

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Continued from:

Earl Lind (Ralph Werther-Jennie June): The Riddle of the Underworld, 1921

I. How I Came to Write This Book[1]

My three books, Autobiography of an Androgyne, The Female-Impersonators, and The Riddle of the Underworld form a trilogy. They together set forth all phases of the life experience of a bisexual university “man.” To only a trifling extent do they overlap. The scientific reader who is interested in my psychology and life experience should read all three. For I was predestined by Providence to an unusual role in the great drama we call “life.” I was brought into the world as one of the very rare humans who possess a strong claim, on anatomic grounds as well as psychic, to membership in both the sexes. I was foreordained to live part of my life as a man and part as woman.

The first of the trilogy, the Autobiography, was published in January 1919. In June 1919 I began a supplement. On first typing, the subject matter of the present second and third members of the trilogy was intended to appear within the same covers. But several who read the crude draft advised me to separate the matter into at least two separate works, in general along the lines that I have actually followed. The Female-Impersonators and The Riddle have thus been elaborated into their final form almost simultaneously. Into the former I put the “milk for babes” that St. Paul speaks of. Into the latter I put the “meat for strong men.” I wrote the former in a popular style for the general reader. I wrote the latter in the style suitable for the scientific investigators to whom my Autobiography was addressed. In the Autobiography I was almost exclusively occupied with a frank exposition of what life meant to me personally. In the two later works I have been chiefly occupied with characters with whom I associated intimately in the Underworld and who, almost exclusively, belonged to the so-called “vicious tenth.” Practically all of the “Overworld” fail to recognize that many of the sexual delinquents among that tenth are fundamentally irresponsible and really innocent of harm to a single soul.

My unique life experience has given me material for a dozen books and I actually have a fourth work on the third typing. With the exception of Jack London and half-a-dozen widely traveled men I have had the most adventurous life of any writer of the twentieth century. Providence has determined as my peculiar literary field the “Underworld.” I have been fated to explore it in many cities, as no other writer has. I have thought it worth the attention of the leaders of thought to become acquainted with the results of my unparalleled explorations.

The reasons that I explored the Underworld so extensively, and, for the six years of my physical prime (age nineteen to twenty-five), took as my bosom friends prostitutes, “fairies,” burglars, gunmen and other atavics were not because I was morally depraved. Mother Nature caused me always to be a “goody-goody.” I could not help being so. I deserve neither praise nor blame. The reason I chummed with the atavic lasses named was solely that I was born bisexual. The Overworld makes of the bisexual a pariah. The Underworld gives the bisexual a hearty welcome. Ergo.

And my career as a female-impersonator happened to be staged in numerous cities and several countries because I was fated to be something of a globetrotter. Having been for years in New York’s Underworld I was curious to explore the Underworlds of other large cities where I have sojourned. And if my sojourn happened to be long enough I plied my instinctive avocation in the Underworlds of the cities visited.

My method of composition in the case of the second and third members of the trilogy is primarily the sub-conscious. My conscious personality is the mere scribe or typist. My conscious self merely writes down what is inwardly dictated by my subliminal self. While writing one line of the primary scribbling I am in general entirely ignorant of what the content of the next line will be.

It is probably, to a large extent a case of subconscious memory. The psychological laws of association bring into the stream of consciousness memories of perceptions that I previously thought I had forgotten and that had not entered my head for a score of years. All that I, without any effort or act of volition, set down on paper springs out of my life experience. If providence had not vouchsafed my unusually checkered and adventurous life I would have been unable to write books, no matter how I had perfected myself in English composition.

But after the crude outpourings of subconscious memory have been scribbled down my training in English composition comes into play. I consciously reflect upon and seek to improve every phrase that I hope some day will be published.

It was otherwise in writing my Autobiography of an Androgyne. Then it was a matter of sometimes having to cudgel my brain to get a book out of it. But my writing that first book a score of years ago seems to have made the composition of books second nature. My brain gives them birth without conscious effort or volition. But this involuntary cerebration exhausts my brain. After four or five hours at high pressure I can do no more that day because of brain-fag.

Practically always I first scribble down what comes as if by inspiration. Then I revise before the first typing. I have tried original composition on the typewriter but find it less economical of time and brainpower. My first three books have had the benefit of three typings before publication.

As already indicated, the subject matter of the present book, as of its two predecessors, will be some of my adventures and acquisitions of knowledge of human life, generally of denizens of the Underworld, while living out the necessary “Mr. Hyde” side of my earthly pilgrimage. But there exists this difference from Stevenson’s dual personality: Instinct even transformed me occasionally into an Actual personality other than my every-day self and into a feminine personality, whereas I lived out my everyday life as a male. This feminine personality, on an average of about one evening a week for six years, traveled about in New York’s Underworld under the name of “Jennie June.” Under that name and as a representative of the gentle sex, my personality had a tremendously more remarkable career in its journey through life than that achieved in New York’s Overworld: as a hard worker in three successive learned professions by the “Dr. Jekyll” side of my dual bisexual nature. That is, the puritanical bookworm to which, in my publications I assign the name “Ralph Werther,” in point of time my second masculine alias.

Since my scholarly career was like that of thousands of others who are models of industry and morality I give that side of my dual life almost no space in my three books. Only my experiences while impersonating a female are of as yet an unheard-of character to the vast majority of readers. As the medical world said of my Autobiography, the present work also “will be found a revelation of things undreamed of by most people. It is a contribution to the almost unexplored field of abnormal psychology.”

Continued at:

Earl Lind (Ralph Werther-Jennie June): The Riddle of the Underworld, II. "The Boy Is Father to the Man"


  1. Manuscript pp. numbered 5-8.

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