21 December 2007

Justin Thomas (aka Adam Keith), Cecil Thomas and Lionel Britton

This rather unlikely title – Justin Thomas's autobiography How I Overcame My Fear of Whores, Royalty, Gays, Teachers, Hippies, Psychiatrists, Athletes, Transvestites, Clergymen, Police, Children, Bullies, Politicians, Nuns, Grandparents, Doctors, Celebrities, Gurus, Judges, Artists, Critics, Mothers, Fathers, Publishers and Myself (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1979) – conceals a surprising amount of information about Lionel Britton's background, although Britton himself is not mentioned. In 1964 Britton formed the Park Group with two partners with the specific purpose of publishing his unpublished works. The other two men were Cecil Thomas (a first cousin of Britton's) and Justin Thomas (Cecil's foster son). Justin was at the time known as Adam Keith, a 25-year-old former songwriter and small-time night club impresario with a history of physical and mental abuse by his parents. Cecil, a business consultant who had been sexually abused by his mother, took Justin into his home at a time when Justin was undergoing a nervous breakdown.

Justin's autobiography also mentions Cecil's (and Lionel's) maternal grandparents: he writes that Marie Antoinette Goffin was raised in the royal palace in Brussels and due to take her vows as a nun, although she escaped over the convent wall to elope with Samuel Thomas junior of Redditch. Much later, the staunch atheist Samuel agreed to buy some land in the town for the Congregational Church on the understanding that his tomb be placed in such a position that all members of the church should be forced to walk past it before entering the church.

Justin lives in Toronto. He has a PhD in Psychology and is the creator of Label Liberation, an enabling principle devised to free the mind from the constraints of labelling which are placed on it by self and others. In a long phone call I had with him, he was surprised to discover how much his work touches on that of Lionel Britton.

When in London in 1972, Justin intended to visit Britton. But by chance, he met Herbert Marshall and his wife Fredda Brilliant, (who sculpted the Gandhi statue in Bloomsbury as well as a bronze bust of Britton). From them, Justin learned of Lionel Britton's recent death, and that the purpose of their visit was to ensure that Britton's literary effects were shipped to Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, where Marshall was working.

Many people in many different fields have commented very favourably on Justin's work, of whom the following are just a few: Truman Capote, Federico Fellini, Andy Warhol, Marshall McLuhan, Buckminster Fuller, Prince Phillip, Sir Laurence Olivier, John Wayne, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Northrop Frye.

Justin Thomas plans a second edition of his autobiography.


Girl said...

Justin, my beloved cousin!!! Is this you? This is Joy, your Hare Krsna little cousin!! A friend of mine (a Hare Krsna monk) told me he met up with you in downtown T.O. If this is really you, I'm dying to talk to you!! Drop me a line on my email lilasooka@msn.com ok? See you, hopefully! Love, your cuz, Joy.

swac said...

I realize this is many years after the original post, but I came across it while searching for Justin Thomas, due to my recent acquisition of his double-LP with the same title as this book, released on Stompin' Tom Connors' Boot Records label, of all things. Let me know if you have any interest in hearing this material! (I'm currently converting the album into mp3 form.)