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Peter Wells

Have you heard the story about Peter Wells
Who one day was arrested and dragged to the cells
For being in love with a man of eighteen
The vicar found out they’d been having a scene
The magistrates sent him for trial by the Crown
He even appealed but they still sent him down
He was only mistreated a couple of years
Cos even in prison they look after the queers

Peter WellsWho was the man to whom Tom Robinson devoted a whole verse of Glad To Be Gay?

The only online references were in vintage Robinson interviews and lyrics, so I resolved to piece together his story.

Peter Wells was 26, his partner was 18. Because this was England in 1974, when the gay age of consent was 21, Wells was sentenced to two and a half years in jail. There, he was assaulted and abused by guards and inmates alike. On release from prison he was interviewed by Gay News just as Tom Robinson was composing Glad To Be Gay.

Like all of us, on closer inspection Peter Wells turned out to have a more complicated life than first appeared. Beyond the man himself, Wells’ story illuminates not only the persecution of gay men but other dark areas of our recent past too.

His early years were fraught with tragedy, losing two sets of parents before his teens. Damaged youngsters were berated rather than counselled and the Victorian brutalisation of children continued well into modern times. Peter Wells was a victim of it all.

Living in an affluent Surrey village in the late 1970s, behind his ostentatious social veneer Wells launched an anonymous case at the European Courts of Human Rights challenging the British government’s age discrimination against gay men. It was pioneering work that paved the way for eventual equality. But, scarred by his abusive background, his life veered and he would not live to taste the liberty he initiated.

Trawling archives, speaking to many people who knew Wells – including the only interview his partner has ever given – The Story About Peter Wells uncovers the man and the times.

“A moving account of the criminalisation of a man for engaging in intimate relationships that are now legal and of the failure of the Convention system to protect him.”
– Professor Paul Johnson, author of Homosexuality and the European Court of Human Rights


The Story About Peter Wells cover70pp A5 book
ISBN: 978-0-9565796-5-2
£5 (includes postage, unless outside the UK)


CD audiobook read by Tom Robinson

The Story About Peter Wells CD cover

The unabridged text on CD (running time: 79.52)
ISBN: 978-0-9565796-7-6
£5 (includes postage, unless outside the UK)


Paperback & CD audiobook package

The Story About Peter Wells book and CDThe paperback and CD editions
£8 (includes postage, unless outside the UK)



Audiobook streaming and download

Listen in streaming audio (and buy the download where applicable) at Bandcamp, Soundcloud or YouTube


ISBN: 978-0-9565796-6-9 Available on Amazon

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