RADCLYFFE HALL, the pen name of MARGUERITE RADCLYFFE-HALL, was born in Bournemouth on August 12, 1880. She was educated at King's College, London and later undertook further studies in Germany. Hall was renowned for her open homosexuality, a subject dealt with in her best-known novel, The Well of Loneliness (1928), a semi-autobiographical work and the only one of her eight novels to deal with overt lesbian themes. Her open treatment of lesbianism in The Well of Loneliness occasioned a trial for obscenity; it was banned and an appeal refused, which resulted in all copies in Britain being destroyed. The United States allowed its publication after a long court battle. She also published several volumes of verse including Twixt Earth and Stars: Poems (1906) and Songs of Three Counties and Other Poems (1913). Adam's Breed (1926), a sensitive novel about the life of a restaurant keeper won the Prix Femina and the 1927 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. Hall died in 1943 at the age of sixty-eight from cancer.
Well of Lonelinessby Radclyffe Hall
First published in 1928, this timeless portrayal of lesbian love is now a classic. The thinly disguised story of Hall's own life, if was banned outright upon publication and almost ruined her literary career.
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They hoped without faith for the future, yet we have both now.
'The Well of Loneliness' is a very solid book, but when you look closely, it has two or three themes that it trumpets again and again, almost to the exclusion of all else. I think it would be more successful if Stephen wasn't so typical of the mannish 'dyke' type, and her lovers weren't such obvious 'femmes'-it seems to wallow in stereotyping. It's also heavily reliant on quasi-scientific theories of 'inversion', which are laughable to a modern reader. And her girlfriends, Angela especially, are so unsympathetic! All the same, it's a relief to see how much attitudes to homosexuality have changed, and it's a virtual tour of period detail. I'd say the book falls apart badly at the end (almost sagging under its own weight) but for the rest of the time it's worth a look, even if you disagree with many of its central themes.