Over the last four decades, twin births have doubled in developed countries. We speak to three sets of identical twins to hear their stories.
Amy and Becky Glass: “We feel like one person in two bodies”
The twins were adopted at two months old and raised in a loving family with two adopted brothers. Now 49, they live together and own a marketing business in Los Angeles.
“For as long as we can remember, we’ve felt like one person in two bodies,” says Becky. “Our adoptive mum says that as babies, we used to share the same dummy.”
Amy adds, “We’d climb into each other’s cribs because we wanted to be together.”
Growing up, the twins wore identical outfits and were in the same class at school. “We were very outgoing and happy to be twins. We liked all the attention. People still come up to us in the street all the time to talk to us and take photographs,” says Becky.
Following some bullying at school, there were a few years when they dressed differently. “But when we went to the same college, we went back to dressing alike,” says Amy. “We feel more like ourselves when we match each other.”
Amy was born six minutes before Becky, and the twins shared a heartbeat in the womb
People have always had a hard time telling the twins apart. “Becky was more studious and a better writer than me, so she took an exam for me once,” confesses Amy. “And when Becky wanted to break up with a boyfriend, she got me to do it!”
Throughout their youth, boys tended to fall for both of them and the twins double-dated brothers, friends and cousins. When they were 25, they dated the same boy for three years. Amy explains, “He was the one guy we shared because the three of us were good friends. Becky and I don’t get jealous of one another.”
Becky says, “If we call a friend, we put the phone on speaker and both speak to them. Our best friend, Lulu, has known us for over 30 years.”
When they were 23, the twins tracked down their biological mother, who revealed that she hadn’t known she was pregnant with twins. “Apparently we were on top of each other in the womb and had one simultaneous heartbeat the entire time,” explains Becky.
Amy, who was born first, says, “I’m more extroverted, although we take turns to be the boss depending on the circumstances. I’m the boss at work and Becky’s the boss at home.”
"We like the attention—people come up to us in the street all the time to talk to us and take photographs"
The twins share one phone, one handbag and one car. Becky is chief handbagcarrier and Amy drives. They have a quick chat to consider any differences between them. “Amy is more emotional while I’m calmer,” explains Becky.
“And I’m the first out on the dance floor while Becky needs a bit of coaxing,” laughs Amy. “Friends say our personalities are interchangeable. We’re so similar that we hardly ever argue. If we do, we try to end it as fast as possible and have a glass of wine!”
In their late thirties, the twins made the decision not to marry or have children. “We don’t want to be apart. We’re soul mates. We have such fun together, it keeps us young. We have a wonderful life, great friends and meet amazing people” explains Amy.
In the last 20 years, the longest they’ve been apart was 24 hours. “It felt like half my body had been cut off,” remembers Amy.
“Being twins gives us confidence. It’s only natural that we feel weird if we’re separated,” adds Becky.
They hate the thought of being separated again and even hope that they’ll die at the same time. Amy says, “We have a deal with God. He’s taking us exactly the same time. We came into the world together and we want to leave it together.”
Roger and Andrew Corke: "It was pretty intense when we were growing up"
Roger is a documentary filmmaker, married to Lynn, and the couple live between London and Oxford. Andrew is a vicar who lives in Dorset. He and wife Ann have two children and two grandchildren.
“Being a twin as an adult is great because you’re so much closer. But we didn’t always feel like that when we were young,” explains Roger.
“Having another kid in the class that looks and sounds just like you makes you stand out and no kid wants that. Mum had to sew a big A and R onto our school jumpers. Even we can’t tell who’s who in some old photos!”
The youngsters liked the same subjects and shared the same hobbies and interests, such as singing and swimming. After the 11-plus exam, there were tears when an official at the education authority suggested the boys went to separate schools. The decision was swiftly overturned but their extreme similarities also caused friction.
Andrew (above right) was the more bookish twin and found his feet at university
“I want to come in and say that like many twins, when we were growing up, it was pretty intense,” says Andrew. “Sibling rivalry usually arises from a desire to get your parents’ attention. And when you’re a twin you want precisely the same attention from your parents at precisely the same time. So there were a lot of arguments.
“I also wanted to assert my individuality. So from 14 or 15, I consciously tried to make myself different—more intellectual and studious than Rog. I became geeky, bookish and less sociable.”
The twins took the same subjects at A-Level and both wanted to study for a law degree, but they decided that they had to go to different universities—and flourished. Andrew says, “I found my feet at university, without my twin.”
Fast-talking Roger expands, “Andrew and I stayed close—we phoned and visited each other—but, frankly, I think it’s a bit spooky for identical twins to be in each others’ pockets in adult life. Time to cut the apron strings, I’d say!”
"Mum had to sew a big A and R onto our school jumpers. Even we can't tell who's who in some old photos"
Now in middle age, the brothers email constantly, talk on the phone at least once a week, meet every couple of months. They “absolutely” regard themselves as best friends and still understand each other better than anyone else.
That doesn’t preclude the occasional bust up. One fight over their respective friends saw the pair not speak for two months. “For Roger, our rows are more furious than they are for me,” comments Andrew.
So who was born first? “Me, by 20 minutes,” Roger replies, lightning fast. And who is the most dominant? “Me,” he fires back, again.
Andrew chips in. “Rog is like me but more so. He’s me cubed! ”
The Corke twins still consider themselves best friends
Roger elaborates, “My wife, Lynn, says our characters and temperaments are very similar but that our worst traits are always replicated in each other!”
To this day, other people still mix them up. Andrew remembers, “At my daughter’s confirmation, I was all robed up in the front and I saw the Bishop do a double take when he saw another me at the back of the church, unrobed!”
It’s a testament to their deep bond that the brothers decided they only needed three kidneys between them. After hearing about the 5,000 British people desperately awaiting a transplant, Roger (as the twin who lived nearer to a hospital) donated one of his in 2013.
Roger says, “My kidney saved someone’s life and Andrew has agreed to give me one of his kidneys if I ever need it.”
Andrew adds, “Now we realise that Rog is very unlikely to ever need one of my kidneys, I’m considering donating one of mine too.”
Learn more about organ donation here
Lisa and Linsey Paul: "We had our own language as toddlers"
Lisa and Linsey were both teachers until they decided to open a tearoom in Nottingham. Lisa lives with her partner and Linsey is currently single.
“Mum says we used to gabble to each other in our own language as toddlers. She was certain we were conversing,” says Lisa.
At 39 years old, they don’t even need words. Lindsey explains, “We only have to give a look and the other one knows what we’re thinking. It’s because we share so many experiences and attitudes.”
Linsey feels that being so connected has made them less outgoing than their sister Kerry, who is two years older. She explains, “Lisa and I have always loved being twins. We understand and rely on each other. It’s an awful lot easier to be best friends with each other, whereas other people are a bit of a minefield!”
At school in Boston, Lincolnshire, teachers were always mixing them up. A term into their GCSEs, one teacher did a double take and exclaimed, “On my goodness, there are two of you!”
Separate trips abroad brought Lisa and Linsey closer together
Once they reached secondary school, “constant comparison” turned them into rivals. Says Lisa, “I hated feeling less clever than my twin. I was jealous and resentful.”
The teenagers deliberately chose different GCSEs and socialised separately. It wasn’t until university (art at Lincoln for Linsey, languages at Nottingham for Lisa) that they finally discovered they’d both been feeling in competition. Linsey smiles. “Suddenly the pressure came off and we were independent. We found that we didn’t have to live in each others’ pockets to retain a strong bond.”
They both started teaching at schools in Nottinghamshire and spent weekends hand-painting crockery and cushions to sell at craft markets. “Then we decided to go into business and open a vintage tearoom and gift shop,” remembers Linsey.
"We were independent and found that we didn't have to live in each others' pockets to retain a strong bond"
Since opening Bread and Butterflies in 2015, they’re closer than ever. “Now we’re with each other every day again, we’ve come full circle! We couldn’t do this with anyone else and we can deal with any difficulties because of the support we get from each other,” says Lisa.
Linsey admits, “We do fall out over small things. As the older twin, Lisa is a neat freak while I’m more relaxed.”
Lisa adds, “We don’t need to discuss what’s upset us, though, because we know what each other is thinking. We just give each other space and wait for the cloud to lift. It never stacks up, like it might with friends, because our connection is made of stronger stuff!”
The twins say they like the same music, films, books and clothes and even try on outfits for each other when shopping. “Linsey’s as good as a mirror,” laughs Lisa. “Friends find it difficult to be with us when we’re together. They can’t keep up with us and feel excluded.”
Linsey says, “Lisa is my best friend. I’d be lost without her.”
Lisa agrees, “I only feel completely myself when we’re together.”
Enjoyed this story? Share it!