Radclyffe Hall

Radclyffe Hall

Radclyffe Hall (August 12, 1880 – October 7 1943) was a British novelist and poet, born Marguerite Radclyffe-Hall in Bournemouth, Hampshire to a wealthy English father and an American mother. Hall described herself as a “congenital introvert,” referring to an innate characteristic. She spent her twenties pursuing a variety of women, finding herself lonely as her contemporaries began to marry.

After falling in love with a married woman she met at a German spa, Hall converted to Christianity. Mabel Batten was twice Hall’s age; the two committed to each other once Batten’s husband passed away. In 1915, she fell in love with Batten’s cousin, Una Troubridge. Within a year, Batten had passed away and Hall moved in with Troubridge. The two stayed together Hall’s death from colon cancer at the age of 63, though there were other love affairs along the way.


The Well of Loneliness

Hall’s most famous work, The Well of Loneliness  (1928), features a lesbian from an upper class family in England. The main character, Stephen Gordon lives in isolation with her partner Mary Llewellyn. They journey through a homosexual relationship during an era that rejected this expression of sexuality poses the setting and plot of the novel.


Radclyffe Hall in a tux

You may also like: Quotes by Radclyffe Hall


Legal battles

Receiving pushback from critics for her “sexually deviant” novel, Hall was swept into legal battles. Though at first widely banned, its notoriety helped bring the visibility of lesbians in Western literature to the forefront. Hall made it clear to her publisher that she wanted the original copy published declaring: “I have put my pen at the service of some of the most persecuted and misunderstood people in the world … So far as I know nothing of the kind has ever been attempted before in fiction.”


Identity

Though Hall has long been described as a lesbian, it’s possible that she would have identified a trans man had the idea of doing so been possible in her time. She called herself “John,” often dressed as a man, and used masculine notions to self-describe.

Hall died of colon cancer in England at the age of 63, and is buried at Highgate Cemetery in North London.


The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall 1928 - cover

Radclyffe Hall page on Amazon


More about Radclyffe Hall on this site

Major Works

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Radclyffe Hall in a suit


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