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JULIA CALLAN-THOMSON: STEWART HOME'S HIPPIE MAMMA
Born in south Wales in 1944, by the early sixties Julia Callan-Thompson was living in Notting Hill and working as a model and hostess in Soho clubs such as Murray's and Churchill's. Her drug experimentation led her into countercultural activism in organisations ranging from SOMA to the Notting Hill Free School, from Defence to RAAS.
Julia's friends allegedly included the infamous such as Alexander Trocchi, Michael X, Bob Guccione, Timothy Leary, Colin MacInnes, R. D. Laing, Eric Clapton and William Burroughs, to the fleetingly known including Michael Hollingshead, Roger Taylor, Simon Vinkenoog, Feliks Topolski, Bill Hopkins, David Solomon, Steve Abrams, Brian Barritt, Charlie Radcliffe, Graham Plinston, John 'Hoppy' Hopkins, Tambimuttu and Terry Taylor, down to those relative 'unknowns' who formed an important part of the Notting Hill scene of the sixties and seventies such as Mal 'Grainger' Drake, Trina Simmonds, Brenda Grevelle, Detta Whybrow, Bunty Duhrsson and Bruno de Galzain.
Julia did the usual beatnik and hippie things, including spending time in Ibiza, and by 1967 she'd hit the hippie trail. There is a feature about her in a Bombay magazine called Eve's Weekly dated June 8 1968:
“Charming, vivacious and full of joie de vivre is Julia Callan-Thompson from Wales, who is on holiday in India and enjoying every bit of it. Julia is a versatile person, she has modelled extensively in Europe and has been designing clothes under the name of Marstan Et Bonnie and has appeared in many films, the latest being Casino Royale. (i.e as an extra)
Having a natural flair for clothes, she says: "Indian fabrics are so rich and colourful with such a vast variety and if designed with a keen eye, have a wide scope on the European market." Her message to the young fashion-conscious is - "You are a woman, don't forget it. In this adventuresome year, let's have a change, go armed with your own personal flair for fashions, your own ideas and go alone." To stress the point, Julia models here some of her flattering outfits which she has designed from our lovely Indian textiles - they're so heady and ready for fun in the tropics.”
As well as continuing her modelling career in India, Julia experimented further with drugs and embarked on a spiritual quest. She was living back in Notting Hill by the end of 1969, and went through a particularly hedonistic phase until 1972, when she discovered Shri Guru Maharaj Ji and his Divine Light Mission. Spiritual concerns were to dominate the latter part of her life. In the summer of 1976 Julia relocated from London to Bolinas in Califonia, which at that time was a town that had been taken over by hippies. From the summer of 1977 onwards Julia based herself once again mainly in London, but was frequently back in the States.
Julia died in the back basement flat at 104 Cambridge Gardens in Notting Hill on 2 December 1979, and there is no adequate explanation of what caused her death. However, Julia's legacy as someone operating at least partially in the public domain lives on, since her only child Llewellyn has published many books using the name Stewart Home.
|Take a trip through the dark underbelly of the 60s
A fictional version of Julia's life.
|If anyone has stories or memories of Julia, please email them to us:
julia [at] stewarthomesociety.org
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