Synopses & Reviews
The extraordinary life of a great English eccentric whose novel, The Well of Loneliness -- the timeless story of a lesbian couple's struggle to be accepted by "polite society" -- is a classic of lesbian literature that has been in print continuously for more than sixty-five years.
"I have written a long and very serious novel entirely upon the subject of sexual inversion. So far as I know nothing of the kind has ever been attempted before in fiction". So wrote Radclyffe Hall, in 1928, in a letter to her literary agent. A prizewinning novelist, she turned the literary establishment of England upside down when The Well of Loneliness was published. Put on trial under the Obscene Publications Act, she was spurned by the Bloomsbury set, including Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, both of whom once had lesbian relationships themselves.
Radclyffe Hall, however, was always a controversial figure. Born in 1880, she was an unwanted child who, upon her father's death -- when she was fifteen -- inherited more than three hundred thousand dollars. She immediately liberated herself from her family and began to affect the manners and demeanor of a young man. She was a political reactionary, a reformed Catholic, a member of the Society for Psychical Research, and despite a frequently unpleasant personality, an aggressive and successful conqueror of a series of women as her lovers.
Brilliantly written, witty, and satirical, this major new biography conceived and executed by Diana Souhami, the highly acclaimed author of several previous biographies, will stand for decades to come as the definitive look at one of the twentieth century's most intriguing characters.
First published in 1928, this timeless portrayal of lesbian love is now a classic. The thinly disguised story of Hall's own life, it was banned outright upon publication and almost ruined her literary career.