Wiles, Terry

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Wiles was a Thalidomide baby, with no useful arms or legs and with only one functional eye, born to a poor, unmarried woman who abandoned him in the hospital.

He spent the first years of his life in Chailey Heritage, Sussex, in a long-term hospital for severely handicapped children. He was then adopted transracially age nine by a white couple, Leonard and Hazel Wiles, who had known his mother, after considerable opposition from social services. His father invented a number of devices to help him function normally.

He learned to play the organ, steer a motorboat and paint, among other things. His life story was made famous in the book and film On Giant's Shoulders.

As an adult he married and emigrated to New Zealand, is married and living in Hamilton.


Wallace, Marjorie; and Robson, Michael. On Giant's Shoulders: The Story of Terry Wiles. (London: Time Books, 1976)
Fleming, Donna. "Ridiculed, Insulted, Shunned!," New Zealand Woman's Weekly, 26 April 1993, p. 20-23
Shears, Richard. "Healed with a Kiss," Sunday Magazine, 29 July 1990, p. 12-15, 18


New Zealand
Uk/great Britain
20th Century
21st Century
Estrangement from Adoptive or Foster Family
Physical Handicaps
Formal, American/European-Type Adoption
Birth or Infancy
School-age Years, Adolescence
Child Abandoned or Rejected by Birth Parent(s)
Trans-Racial, Trans-Tribal, International or Trans-Cultural Adoption or Fostering
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