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Gray, Nicholas Stuart

Entry updated 27 March 2023. Tagged: Author, Theatre.

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(1912-1981) UK actor, playwright, illustrator and author, born Phyllis Loriot Hatch, under which name she produced some unpublished plays, and worked as an actor on the professional British stage from around 1930 until the end of the decade. At this point that identity was retired, and Nicholas Stuart Gray presented as male from around 1939; he underwent a medical transition in 1959 (very early for Female-to-Male procedures). In his later life, he frequently performed in his own plays, most famously as the eponymous Cat in The Marvellous Story of Puss in Boots (1955); cats appear in several of his tales as well, including Grimbold's Other World (1963). All his publications are as by Gray.

Though there was a considerable degree of intersection, his career as author can be roughly divided into his work as playwright, with the unpublished "Judgement Reserved" reportedly being produced as early as 1940, and his later work as novelist for Young Adult readers, beginning with Over the Hills to Fabylon (1954).

Gray's plays are designed exclusively for children, and particularly in the 1950s were frequently performed around Christmas [for Christmas and for a fantasy-oriented take on Nicholas Stuart Gray see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. Relatively little of his fiction is of sf interest, though his best-known novel, Down in the Cellar (1961), does hint of breakthroughs from different Dimensions. "Star Beast", in Mainly in Moonlight: Ten Stories of Sorcery and the Supernatural (coll 1965), is an effective First Contact tale in which a monkey-like Alien (see Apes as Human) crash-lands on Earth, where it is forced by human blindness to its true nature to act like a "monkey". In The Wardens of the Weir (1978), published in parallel with "Once Upon a Time There Was a Chance" in A Wind from Nowhere (coll 1978), a figure identified as both Lucifer and Avatar (see Secret Masters) gives the young protagonists of the tale a guided tour (it is not clear if by Time Travel, via a portal to other planets or via Time Viewer) of venues where species, extinct or endangered on this planet because of Homo sapiens, may thrive. Unicorns have been rescued from sinking Atlantis; dolphins have been encouraged (see Adam and Eve) to begin a new civilization far from Earth. [JC]

Nicholas Stuart Gray

born London: 23 October 1912

died London: 17 March 1981




Puss in Boots

individual plays

collections and stories



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