Radclyffe Hall

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Radclyffe Hall

Radclyffe Hall (August 12, 1880 - October 7, 1943) (born Marguerite Radclyffe-Hall, in life she went by the name John) was a British lesbian, and author of The Well of Loneliness.

In 1928, The Well of Loneliness was the subject of an obscenity trial which resulted in all copies of the novel ordered destroyed. It was subsequently reprinted, and is currently in print in the United States, published by Anchor Press. Not only a classic of lesbian literature, The Well of Loneliness is also an example of sentimental literature. Hall described herself as a congenital invert a term she acquired from the writings of Havelock Ellis and other turn of the century sexologists.

The British composer and bon-vivant Gerald Berners, also the 17th Lord Berners, wrote a roman clef The Girls of Radclyffe Hall, in which he depicts himself and his circle of friends, including Cecil Beaton and Oliver Messel, as lesbian schoolgirls at a school named Radclyffe Hall. The indiscretions made in this novel (which was published and distributed privately) created an uproar among Berners' intimates and acquaintances, making the whole affair highly discussed in the 1930s. The novel subsequently disappeared from circulation, making it an extremely rare book among collectors of gay literature. Rumour has it that Beaton bought all the already scarce copies of the book and destroyed them.

Judith Halberstam, in her book Female Masculinity writes about Radclyffe Hall and The Well of Loneliness.

Radclyffe Hall is interred at Highgate Cemetery, London, UK. The vault with her gave is in the Egyptian Avenue and the Circle of Lebanon.


"Let them criticize. Everyone has a right to think and say exactly what they like in this world. If no one took any notice of them slanders would injure no one."



  • The Forge, 1924
  • The Unlit Lamp, 1924
  • A Saturday Life, 1925
  • Adam's Breed, 1926
  • The Well of Loneliness, 1928
  • The Master of the House, 1932
  • Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself, 1934
  • The Sixth Beatitude, 1936 (William Heineman Ltd, London)
  • Your John: The Love Letters of Radclyffe Hall


  • The Forgotten Island. (London : Chapman & Hall,1915.)
  • Dedicated to Sir Arthur Sullivan. (England : s.n., 1894.)
  • A Sheaf Of Verses : Poems. (London : J. And E. Bumpus, 1908)
  • Twixt Earth And Stars. (London : John And Edward Bumpus Ltd., 1906.)
  • Poems Of The Past & Present. (London : Chapman And Hall, 1910.)
  • Songs Of Three Counties And Other Poems. (London:Chapman & Hall, Ltd. 1913.)
  • Rhymes and Rhythms. Milan, 1948, a volume of verse.


  • Sally Cline - Radclyffe Hall: A Woman Called John (Overlook Press 1999)

External links

  • The Knitting Circle: Literature Radclyffe Hall (http://myweb.lsbu.ac.uk/~stafflag/johnhall.html)


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