Silent Twins Leave Legacy of Stunted Creativity and Mysterious Tragedy

Silent Twins Leave Legacy of Stunted Creativity and Mysterious Tragedy

Twins have gotten a reputation throughout history of being somewhat scary. They haunt many horror films and even nightmares, yet in reality, most twins are perfectly normal. But every now and then we hear a story that changes our mind and begs us to wonder what kind of magic is at play in the creation of two human beings who are born identical. The story of June and Jennifer Gibbons, also known as the silent twins, is a perfect example of this.

Racism at the Origin of the Silent Twins


Marjorie Wallace, a journalist fascinated with the silent twins, documented her work with the enigmatic sisters.

The two little girls, whose parents had migrated from the Caribbean, grew up in Wales where they were the only black children at their school. As a result the girls were picked on and they became isolated to the point of creating their own language and only talking to each other and their younger sister. Their language was a form of cryptophasia, which was demonstrated by the girls’ simultaneous actions, which usually mirrored each other. When the girls were 14, a string of therapists tried to get the girls to speak to other people but all of them failed. At this point, they were sent to separate boarding schools where the girls became catatonic at being separated and withdrew entirely.

The Creative Imaginations of June and Jennifer Gibbons

When they were reunited, they spent years isolated in their room, creating plays and stories with their dolls. When they were gifted diaries for Christmas, the girls began writing novels set in America where the characters expressed bizarre and sometimes criminal behavior. June’s Pepsi-Cola Addict featured a high school hero with a crippling addiction to Pepsi Cola who is seduced by his teacher. He’s then sent away to reformatory school where a homosexual guard makes a moves on him. Jennifer’s Discomania finds a young woman uncovering that the atmosphere of a disco is sending people into a state of wild violence.

Decline into Crime and Institutionalization


The cover of June Gibbons’ bizarre story, The Pepsi-Cola Addict.

The women self-published their work through a company called New Horizons and tried to get work selling short stories to magazines but were not able to make this work. The girls committed a number of crimes, including arson, which ultimately led to their being committed to Broadmoor Hospital for many years. They were placed on medication and eventually lost their interest in creative writing. Jennifer developed tardive dyskinesia (a neurological disorder that results in involuntary, repetitive movements).

Liberty and Tragedy

The silent twins had made a pact with each other that if one of them died, the other would have to talk and live a normal life. After some discussion about this, Jennifer decided to sacrifice herself so that June could live. In March 1993, Jennifer could not be woken. She was taken to hospital and died soon after of a sudden inflammation of the heart. No drugs or poison were found in her system and no one knows exactly how she died. A few days after Jennifer’s death, June was quoted as saying, “I’m free at last, liberated, and at last Jennifer has given up her life for me.” She now lives a normal, independent life, free of psychiatric services and accepted by her community in West Wales.

How did the bond between the girls prove so close as to affect each other in such a way? The mystery of twins continues to send shivers up our spines, spurred on by the strange tale of the silent twins, June and Jennifer Gibb

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