The Trials of Radclyffe Hall

Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on 13th July 1998

Radclyffe Hall, one of England’s great eccentrics, is best known for The Well of Loneliness which she wrote in 1928. A novel about lesbian love – “congenital inverts” – the book was supressed both here and in the US, and caused Radclyffe to be put on trial under the Obscene Publications Act. She was spurned by the Bloomsbury set, including Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf, both of whom had lesbian relationships.

Based on her own life, The Well of Loneliness, tells the story of Sir Philip and Lady Gordon and their daughter who they baptised Stephen (in adult life Radclyffe adopted the name John). It becomes apparent that Stephen is not like other girls; she learns to fence and hunt, wears breeches and longs to cut her hair. When she reached maturity she falls passionately in love – with another woman.

This book was banned as obscene after a notorious and dramatic trial. It remains a classic story of lesbian love.