Ever had that feeling of being trapped somewhere and can’t get out? Such was the feeling of June and Jennifer Gibbons, one of the strangest set of twins in history.
Their parents, Gloria and Aubrey Gibbons were immigrants to the UK from Barbados in the early 1960s. They were born on April 11, 1963. In 1974, their parents moved to Haverford west, Wales. The two had grown inseparable at that time. At school, they were ostracized due to the fact that they were the only black children. Their language also became idiosyncratic making it incomprehensible to other people. They actually spoke a fast tracked mix of Barbadian creole and English. They soon stopped interacting socially with anyone except themselves and their younger sister Rose. Their social withdrawal was noticed by a nurse during their school vaccination program who referred them to a psychiatrist for treatment. They were later treated by a succession of therapists all of who failed to get them to interact socially. One of them noted that they acted simultaneously and would stop whatever they were doing if they were being watched by a third party and would continue whenever they were alone. Their parents then sent them to separate boarding schools to help foster their social skills but things got even worse, instead of interacting more with other people, which was expected, they became increasingly withdrawn up to the point of being catatonic. Both believed that they were two parts of one entity living separately but still the same and inseparable.
It was soon decided that they be reunited and the two isolated themselves for several years in their bedroom . Their self isolation earned them the name ‘the silent twins’. They also began to become creative and wrote many stories and plays which they read aloud as tape gifts to their younger sister. After getting a pair of gift diaries on Christmas in 1979, they began their writing careers. Each kept an extensive diary, writing lots of stories, poems and novels. Most of their stories involved young people who exhibited strange and sometimes criminal behavior. They had one of their stories published later on.
In their teenage years, they became infatuated with two American teenage brothers who had recently moved in. The boys also introduced them to drugs, they had started growing fond of the brothers, but their newly found joy was short lived as the boys had to relocate to America. As a result of the brothers’ departure, they were overcome with sadness and even tried unsuccessfully to kill each other. They were soon involved in acts of arson, vandalism and petty theft. June had written once after they burned down a shop “I burned it down today, with the help of Jennifer, of course. The greatest moment of my life. We opened all the cans of petrol and spread it everywhere. Can you believe that I’m the arsonist of Haverfordwest?… My lovely glorious fire… a picture which will live in my mind forever — oh, what a sinful, evil, selfish mind.
“I know the Lord will forgive me. It’s been a long, painful, hard year. Don’t I deserve to express my distress?”. They were soon arrested and sentenced to indefinite detention under the Mental Health Act of 1983. Their lengthy sentence was attributed to their recurring refusal to speak. They were detained at Broadmoor hospital, the most secure mental hospital in the UK. At Broadmoor, they were detained for eleven years and were subsequently subjected to high doses of antipsychotic medications making them unable to concentrate and this caused Jennifer to develope a neurological disorder called tardive dyskinesia(A condition affecting the nervous system, often caused by long-term use of some psychiatric drugs). They soon lost most of their interest in creative writing, and in order to keep themselves busy, they joined the hospital choir. According to Majorice Wallace, a journalist of the Sunday times and author of the book ‘the Silent twins’, the girls had a long standing agreement that if one died, the other must begin to speak and live a normal life.
On March 1993, they were set to be transferred to Caswell Clinic in Bidgend, Wales. Before their release they had a long argument on who would have to die for the other to be free. It was later decided that Jennifer sacrifice herself and she told Wallace that she was going to die. On arrival at Wales, Jennifer entered into a coma and was rushed to the hospital where she died shortly as a result of acute myocarditis. June blamed the death on Broadmoor(the hospital where Jennifer died) for not paying attention to Jennifer’s health and tried to file a law suit against the hospital. Her parents dissuaded her stating that it won’t bring Jennifer back. Following the terms of their agreement, June rejoined society and still lives in the UK, not far away from their family.


The story of the silent twins is one that has brought several opinions as to whether they were two bodies sharing one soul. However, a reasonable explanation has not been gotten yet.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here