You are on page 1of 16

The Well of Loneliness

For the song, see The Well of Loneliness (song). For the wreck of her whole career, she sought and received the
torture device, see Pit of despair.
blessing of her partner, Una Troubridge, before she began
work.[9] Her goals were social and political; she wanted to
The Well of Loneliness is a 1928 lesbian novel by end public silence about homosexuality and bring about
a more tolerant understanding as well as to spur all
the British author Radclye Hall. It follows the life
good through hard work ... and
of Stephen Gordon, an Englishwoman from an upper- classes of inverts to make[10]
sober and useful living.
class family whose "sexual inversion" (homosexuality)
is apparent from an early age. She nds love with In April 1928 she told her editor that her new book would
Mary Llewellyn, whom she meets while serving as an require complete commitment from its publisher and that
ambulance driver in World War I, but their happiness to- she would not allow even one word to be altered. I have
gether is marred by social isolation and rejection, which put my pen at the service of some of the most persecuted
Hall depicts as having a debilitating eect on inverts. The and misunderstood people in the world .... So far as I
novel portrays inversion as a natural, God-given state and know nothing of the kind has ever been attempted before
makes an explicit plea: Give us also the right to our in ction.[11]
The novel became the target of a campaign by James
Douglas, editor of the Sunday Express newspaper, who
wrote, I would rather give a healthy boy or a healthy
girl a phial of prussic acid than this novel. Although
its only sexual reference consists of the words and that
night, they were not divided, a British court judged it obscene because it defended unnatural practices between
women.[2] In the United States the book survived legal
challenges in New York state and in Customs Court.[3]

2 Plot summary

Publicity over The Well's legal battles increased the visibility of lesbians in British and American culture.[4] For
decades it was the best-known lesbian novel in English,
and often the rst source of information about lesbianism that young people could nd.[5] Some readers have
valued it, while others have criticized it for Stephens expressions of self-hatred and seen it as inspiring shame.[6]
Its role in promoting images of lesbians as mannish or
cross-dressed women has also been controversial.
Although few critics rate The Well highly as a work of
literature, its treatment of sexuality and gender continues
to inspire study and debate.[7]


In 1926, Radclye Hall was at the height of her career. Her novel Adams Breed, about the spiritual awakening of an Italian headwaiter, had become a bestseller;
it would soon win the Prix Femina and the James Tait
Black Prize.[8] She had long thought of writing a novel
about sexual inversion; now, she believed, her literary
reputation would allow such a work to be given a hearing. Natalie Barney, an American who lived and held a literary salon
Since she knew she was risking scandal and the ship- in Paris, was the model for Valrie Seymour.


The books protagonist, Stephen Gordon, is born in

the late Victorian era[13] to upper-class parents in
Worcestershire who are expecting a boy and who christen
her with the boys name they had already chosen. Even at
birth she is physically unusual, a narrow-hipped, wideshouldered little tadpole of a baby.[14] As a girl she hates
dresses, wants to cut her hair short, and longs to be a boy.
At seven, she develops a crush on a housemaid named
Collins, and is devastated when she sees Collins kissing a

her with a more complete and normal existence.[20]

Stephens father, Sir Phillip, dotes on her; he seeks to

understand her through the writings of Karl Heinrich
Ulrichs, the rst modern writer to propose a theory of
homosexuality,[15] but does not share his ndings with
Stephen. Her mother, Lady Anna, is distant, seeing
Stephen as a blemished, unworthy, maimed reproduction of Sir Phillip.[16] At eighteen, Stephen forms a close
friendship with a Canadian man, Martin Hallam, but is
horried when he declares his love for her. The following winter, Sir Phillip is crushed by a falling tree; at the
last moment he tries to explain to Lady Anna that Stephen
is an invert, but dies without managing to do so.

3 Autobiographical

Martin Hallam, now living in Paris, rekindles his old

friendship with Stephen. In time, he falls in love with
Mary. Persuaded that she cannot give Mary happiness,
Stephen pretends to have an aair with Valrie Seymour
to drive her into Martins arms. The novel ends with
Stephens plea to God: Give us also the right to our



Although some writers in the 1970s and 1980s

treated The Well of Loneliness as a thinly veiled
autobiography,[22] Halls childhood bore little resemblance to Stephens.[23] Angela Crossby may be a
composite of various women with whom Hall had
aairs in her youth, but Mary, whose lack of outside
interests leaves her idle when Stephen is working,[24]
does not resemble Halls partner Una Troubridge, an
accomplished sculptor who translated Colette's novels
into English.[25] Hall said she drew on herself only for
the fundamental emotions that are characteristic of the

Stephen begins to dress in masculine clothes made by

a tailor rather than a dressmaker. At twenty-one she
falls in love with Angela Crossby, the American wife
of a new neighbor. Angela uses Stephen as an anodyne against boredom, allowing her a few rather schoolgirlish kisses.[17] Then Stephen discovers that Angela
is having an aair with a man. Fearing exposure, Angela shows a letter from Stephen to her husband, who
sends a copy to Stephens mother. Lady Anna denounces
Stephen for presum[ing] to use the word love in connection with ... these unnatural cravings of your unbalanced
mind and undisciplined body. Stephen replies, As my
father loved you, I loved ... It was good, good, good
I'd have laid down my life a thousand times over for Angela Crossby.[18] After the argument, Stephen goes to
Women of the Hackett Lowther Unit work on ambulances
her fathers study and for the rst time opens his locked
bookcase. She nds a book by Krat-Ebing assumed
by critics to be Psychopathia Sexualis, a text about homosexuality and paraphilias[19] and, reading it, learns that 3.1 World War I
she is an invert.
Stephen moves to London and writes a well-received rst
novel. Her second novel is less successful, and her friend
the playwright Jonathan Brockett, himself an invert, urges
her to travel to Paris to improve her writing through a
fuller experience of life. There she makes her rst, brief
contact with urban invert culture, meeting the lesbian
salon hostess Valrie Seymour. During World War I she
joins an ambulance unit, eventually serving at the front
and earning the Croix de Guerre. She falls in love with
a younger fellow driver, Mary Llewellyn, who comes to
live with her after the war ends. They are happy at rst,
but Mary becomes lonely when Stephen returns to writing. Rejected by polite society, Mary throws herself into
Parisian nightlife. Stephen believes Mary is becoming
hardened and embittered and feels powerless to provide

Although Halls Authors Note disclaims any real-world

basis for the ambulance unit that Stephen joins, she drew
heavily on the wartime experiences of her friend Toupie
Lowther, co-commander of the only womens unit to
serve on the front in France. Lowther, like Stephen, came
from an aristocratic family, adopted a masculine style of
dress, and was an accomplished fencer, tennis player, motorist and jujitsu enthusiast.[27] In later years she said the
character of Stephen was based on her, which may have
been partly true.[28]
In The Well of Loneliness, war work provides a publicly
acceptable role for inverted women. The narrative voice
asks that their contributions not be forgotten and predicts
that they will not go back into hiding: a battalion was
formed in those terrible years that would never again be

completely disbanded.[29] This military metaphor continues later in the novel when inverts in postwar Paris are
repeatedly referred to as a miserable army.[30] Hall invokes the image of the shell-shocked soldier to depict inverts as psychologically damaged by their outcast status:
for bombs do not trouble the nerves of the invert, but
rather that terrible silent bombardment from the batteries
of Gods good people.[31]


Paris lesbian and gay subculture

Stephen and Brockett visit Marie Antoinettes Temple of Love,

near the Petit Trianon, Versailles

In Halls time, Paris was known for having a relatively

large and visible gay and lesbian community in part because France, unlike England, had no laws against male
homosexuality.[32] Marcel Proust's (d. 1922) novels continued in their inuence upon 1920s Parisian society depicting lesbian and gay subculture. When Stephen rst
travels to Paris, at the urging of her friend Jonathan
Brockett who may be based on Nol Coward[33] she
has not yet spoken about her inversion to anyone. Brockett, acting as tour guide, hints at a secret history of inversion in the city by referring to Marie Antoinette's rumored
relationship with the Princesse de Lamballe.[34]

The Temple of Friendship at Natalie Barneys home at 20, Rue


of the world, must despise themselves beyond all hope, it

seemed, of salvation.[37]

Many of those familiar with the subculture she described,

including her own friends, disagreed with her portrayal
of it; Romaine Brooks called her a digger-up of worms
with the pretension of a distinguished archaeologist.[38]
Halls correspondence shows that the negative view of
bars like Alecs that she expressed in The Well was sincerely meant,[39] but she also knew that such bars did not
represent the only homosexual communities in Paris.[40]
It is a commonplace of criticism that her own experience
of lesbian life was not as miserable as Stephens.[41] By
Brockett next introduces Stephen to Valrie Seymour,
focusing on misery and describing its cause as ceaseless
who like her prototype, Natalie Cliord Barney[33]
persecution by the so-called just and righteous, she inis the hostess of a literary salon, many of whose guests
tensied the urgency of her plea for change.[42]
are lesbians and gay men. Immediately after this meeting Stephen announces she has decided to settle in Paris
at 35 Rue Jacob (purchased at Seymours recommendation), with its temple in a corner of an overgrown gar- 4 Religious, philosophical and sciden. Barney lived and held her salon at 20 Rue Jacob.[35]
entic content
Stephen is wary of Valrie, however, and does not visit
her salon until after the war, when Brockett persuades
her that Mary is becoming too isolated. She nds Valrie 4.1 Sexology
to be an indestructible creature capable of bestowing a
sense of self-respect on others, at least temporarily: ev- Hall wrote The Well of Loneliness in part to popularize
eryone felt very normal and brave when they gathered the ideas of sexologists such as Richard von Krat-Ebing
together at Valrie Seymours.[36] With Stephens mis- and Havelock Ellis, who regarded homosexuality as an ingivings drugged, she and Mary are drawn further into born and inalterable trait: congenital sexual inversion.[43]
the desolate country of Paris gay life. At Alecs Bar In Krat-Ebings Psychopathia Sexualis (1886), the rst
the worst in a series of depressing nightspots they en- book Stephen nds in her fathers study, inversion is decounter the battered remnants of men who ... despised scribed as a degenerative disorder common in families

with histories of mental illness.[44] Exposure to these

ideas leads Stephen to describe herself and other inverts
as hideously maimed and ugly.[45] However, later texts
such as Sexual Inversion (1896) by Havelock Ellis who
contributed a foreword to The Well described inversion
simply as a dierence, not as a defect. By 1901 KratEbing had adopted a similar view.[46] Hall championed
their ideas over those of the psychoanalysts, who saw homosexuality as a form of arrested psychological development, and some of whom believed it could be changed.[47]

inverts.[61] Her defense of inversion took the form of a

religious argument: God had created inverts, so humanity should accept them.[62] The Well's use of religious imagery outraged the books opponents,[63] but Halls vision
of inversion as a God-given state was an inuential contribution to the language of LGBT rights.[64]

The term sexual inversion implied gender role reversal.

Female inverts were, to a greater or lesser degree, inclined
to traditionally male pursuits and dress;[48] according to
Krat-Ebing, they had a masculine soul. Krat-Ebing
believed that the most extreme inverts also exhibited reversal of secondary sex characteristics; Elliss research
had not demonstrated any such physical dierences, but
he devoted a great deal of study to the search for them.[49]
The idea appears in The Well in Stephens unusual proportions at birth and in the scene set at Valerie Seymours
salon, where the timbre of a voice, the build of an ankle, the texture of a hand reveals the inversion of the


Christianity and spiritualism

Hall, who had converted to the Roman Catholic Church

in 1912, was devoutly religious.[52] She was also a believer
in communication with the dead who had once hoped to
become a medium[53] a fact that brought her into conict with the church, which condemned spiritualism.[54]
Both these beliefs made their way into The Well of Loneliness.
Stephen, born on Christmas Eve and named for the rst
martyr of Christianity, dreams as a child that in some
queer way she [is] Jesus.[55] When she discovers that
Collins, object of her childhood crush, has housemaids
knee, she prays that the aiction be transferred to her:
I would like to wash Collins in my blood, Lord Jesus I
would like very much to be a Saviour to Collins I love
her, and I want to be hurt like You were.[56] This childish
desire for martyrdom pregures Stephens ultimate selfsacrice for Marys sake.[57] After she tricks Mary into
leaving her carrying out a plan that leads Valrie to exclaim you were made for a martyr!"[58] Stephen, left
alone in her home, sees the room thronged with inverts,
living, dead and unborn. They call on her to intercede
with God for them, and nally possess her. It is with their
collective voice that she demands of God, Give us also
the right to our existence.[59]
After Stephen reads Krat-Ebing in her fathers library,
she opens the Bible at random, seeking a sign, and reads
Genesis 4:15, And the Lord set a mark upon Cain ...[60]
Hall uses the mark of Cain, a sign of shame and exile,
throughout the novel as a metaphor for the situation of


5 Publication and contemporary

Three publishers praised The Well but turned it down.
Halls agent then sent the manuscript to Jonathan Cape,
who, though cautious about publishing a controversial
book, saw the potential for a commercial success. Cape
tested the waters with a small print run of 1500 copies,
priced at 15 shillings about twice the cost of an average
novel to make it less attractive to sensation-seekers.[65]
Publication, originally scheduled for autumn 1928, was
moved up when he discovered that another novel with
a lesbian theme, Compton Mackenzie's Extraordinary
Women, was to be published in September. Though the
two books would prove to have little in common, Hall
and Cape saw Extraordinary Women as a competitor and
wanted to beat it to market. The Well appeared on July 27,
in a black cover with a discreet plain jacket. Cape sent review copies only to newspapers and magazines he thought
would handle the subject matter non-sensationally.[66]
Early reviews were mixed. Some critics found the novel
too preachy;[67] some, including Leonard Woolf, thought
it was poorly structured; some complained of sloppiness
in style. Others, however, praised both its sincerity and its
artistry, and some expressed sympathy with Halls moral
argument.[68] In the three weeks after the book appeared
in bookstores, no reviewer called for its suppression or
suggested that it should not have been published.[69] A
review in T.P.'s & Cassells Weekly foresaw no diculties
for The Well: One cannot say what eect this book will
have on the public attitude of silence or derision, but every
reader will agree with Mr. Havelock Ellis in the preface,
that 'the poignant situations are set forth with a complete
absence of oence.'"[70]


Sunday Express campaign

James Douglas, editor of the Sunday Express newspaper,

did not agree. Douglas was a dedicated moralist, an exponent of muscular Christianity, which sought to reinvigorate the church by promoting physical health and manliness. His colorfully worded editorials on subjects such
as the apper vote (that is, the extension of surage to
women under 30) and modern sex novelists helped the
Express family of papers prosper in the cutthroat circulation wars of the late 1920s. These leader articles shared
the pages of the Sunday Express with gossip, murderers
confessions, and features about the love aairs of great


Sunday Express campaign

men and women of the past.[71]

suppressing it. On October 19 he released the seized

copies for delivery to Leopold Hills premises, where the
Metropolitan Police were waiting with a search warrant.
Hill and Cape were summoned to appear at Bow Street
Magistrates Court to show cause why the book should
not be destroyed.[76]

[T]he adroitness and cleverness of the book intensies

its moral danger. It is a seductive and insidious piece of
special pleading designed to display perverted decadence
as a martyrdom inicted upon these outcasts by a cruel
society. It ings a veil of sentiment over their depravity.
It even suggests that their self-made debasement is
unavoidable, because they cannot save themselves.
James Douglas, A Book That Must Be Suppressed, 5.1.1 Response
Sunday Express, 19 August 1928

From its beginning, the Sunday Expresss campaign drew

the attention of other papers. Some backed Douglas, including the Sunday Chronicle, the People and Truth.[77]
The Daily News and Westminster Gazette ran a review
that, without commenting on Douglass action, said the
novel present[ed] as a martyr a woman in the grip of
a vice.[78] However, most of the British press defended
The Well.[79] The Nation suggested that the Sunday Express had only started its campaign because it was August, the journalistic silly season when good stories are
scarce.[79] Country Life and Ladys Pictorial both ran
positive reviews.[80] Arnold Dawson of the Daily Herald, a Labour newspaper, called Douglas a stunt journalist"; he said no one would give the book to a child,
no child would want to read it, and any who did would
nd nothing harmful.[81] Dawson also printed a scathing
condemnation of the Home Oce by H. G. Wells and
George Bernard Shaw and started a counter-campaign
that helped Hall obtain statements of support from the
National Union of Railwaymen and the South Wales MinIn what Hall described as an act of imbecility coupled
ers Federation.[82]
with momentary panic, Jonathan Cape sent a copy of
The Well to the Home Secretary for his opinion, oering A novelist may not wish to treat any of the subjects
to withdraw the book if it would be in the public inter- mentioned above but the sense that they are prohibited or
est to do so. The Home Secretary was William Joynson- prohibitable, that there is a taboo-list, will work on him
Hicks, a Conservative known for his crackdowns on al- and will make him alert and cautious instead of surrencohol, nightclubs and gambling, as well as for his op- dering himself to his creative impulses. And he will tend
position to a revised version of The Book of Common to cling to subjects that are ocially acceptable, such as
Prayer. He took only two days to reply that The Well was murder and adultery, and to shun anything original lest it
gravely detrimental to the public interest"; if Cape did bring him into forbidden areas.
not withdraw it voluntarily, criminal proceedings would E. M. Forster and Virginia Woolf, Letter to the Nation
and Athenaeum[83]
be brought.[74]
Douglass campaign against The Well of Loneliness began on Saturday, August 18, with poster and billboard
advertising and a teaser in the Daily Express promising to
expose A Book That Should Be Suppressed.[72] In his
editorial the next day, Douglas wrote that sexual inversion and perversion had already become too visible and
that the publication of The Well brought home the need
for society to cleans[e] itself from the leprosy of these
lepers. For Douglas the sexological view of homosexuality was pseudoscience, incompatible with the Christian
doctrine of free will; instead, he argued, homosexuals
were damned by their own choice which meant that others could be corrupted by their propaganda. Above all,
children must be protected: I would rather give a healthy
boy or a healthy girl a phial of prussic acid than this novel.
Poison kills the body, but moral poison kills the soul.
He called on the publishers to withdraw the book and the
Home Secretary to take action if they did not.[73]

Cape announced that he had stopped publication, but he

secretly leased the rights to Pegasus Press, an English language publisher in France. His partner Wren Howard
took papier-mch molds of the type to Paris, and by
September 28, Pegasus Press was shipping its edition to
the London bookseller Leopold Hill, who acted as distributor. With publicity increasing demand, sales were brisk,
but the reappearance of The Well on bookstore shelves
soon came to the attention of the Home Oce. On October 3 Joynson-Hicks issued a warrant for shipments of
the book to be seized.[75]

Leonard Woolf and E. M. Forster drafted a letter of

protest against the suppression of The Well, assembling a
list of supporters that included Shaw, T. S. Eliot, Arnold
Bennett, Vera Brittain and Ethel Smyth. According to
Virginia Woolf, the plan broke down when Hall objected
to the wording of the letter, insisting it mention her books
artistic merit even genius.[84] The Well 's sentimental romanticism, traditional form, and lofty style using
words like withal, betoken and hath did not appeal to
Modernist aesthetics; not all those willing to defend it on
grounds of literary freedom were equally willing to praise
One consignment of 250 copies was stopped at the port
its artistry.[85] The petition dwindled to a short letter in the
of Dover. Then the Chairman of the Board of CusNation and Athenaeum, signed by Forster and Virginia
toms balked. He had read The Well and considered it
Woolf, that focused on the chilling eects of censorship
a ne book, not at all obscene; he wanted no part of
on writers.[83]


UK trial

The obscenity trial began on 9 November 1928.[86]

Capes solicitor Harold Rubinstein sent out 160 letters
to potential witnesses. Many were reluctant to appear in
court; according to Virginia Woolf, they generally put
it down to the weak heart of a father, or a cousin who is
about to have twins.[87] About 40 turned up on the day
of the trial, including Woolf herself, Forster and such diverse gures as biologist Julian Huxley, Laurence Housman of the British Sexological Society, Robert Cust JP
of the London Morality Council, Charles Ricketts of the
Royal Academy of Art and Rabbi Joseph Frederick Stern
of the East London Synagogue. Norman Haire, who was
the star witness after Havelock Ellis bowed out, declared
that homosexuality ran in families and a person could no
more become it by reading books than if he could become syphilitic by reading about syphilis.[88] None were
allowed to oer their views of the novel. Under the
Obscene Publications Act of 1857, Chief Magistrate Sir
Chartres Biron could decide whether the book was obscene without hearing any testimony on the question.[89]
I don't think people are entitled to express an opinion
upon a matter which is the decision of the court, he
said.[90] Since Hall herself was not on trial, she did not
have the right to her own counsel, and Capes barrister
Norman Birkett had persuaded her not to take the stand


literary merit was irrelevant because a well-written obscene book was even more harmful than a poorly written
one. The topic in itself was not necessarily unacceptable;
a book that depicted the moral and physical degradation
which indulgence in those vices must necessary involve
might be allowed, but no reasonable person could say that
a plea for the recognition and toleration of inverts was not
obscene. He ordered the book destroyed, with the defendants to pay court costs.[96]

5.2.1 Appeal
Hill and Cape appealed to the London Court of Quarter Sessions.[97] The prosecutor, Attorney General Sir
Thomas Inskip, solicited testimony from biological and
medical experts and from the writer Rudyard Kipling.
But when Kipling appeared on the morning of the trial,
Inskip told him he would not be needed. James Melville
had wired the defense witnesses the night before to tell
them not to come in. The panel of twelve magistrates
who heard the appeal had to rely on passages Inskip read
to them for knowledge of the book, since the Director
of Public Prosecutions had refused to release copies for
them to read. After deliberating for only ve minutes,
they upheld Birons decision.[98]

Birkett arrived in court two hours late.[91] In his defense, 5.3

he tried to claim that the relationships between women
in The Well of Loneliness were purely Platonic in nature.
Biron replied, I have read the book. Hall had urged Birkett before the trial not to "sell the inverts in our defense.
She took advantage of a lunch recess to tell him that if he
continued to maintain her book had no lesbian content
she would stand up in court and tell the magistrate the
truth before anyone could stop her. Birkett was forced
to retract. He argued instead that the book was tasteful
and possessed a high degree of literary merit.[92] James
Melville, appearing for Leopold Hill, took a similar line:
the book was written in a reverend spirit, not to inspire
libidinous thoughts but to examine a social question. The
theme itself should not be forbidden, and the books treatment of its theme was unexceptionable.[93]

The Sink of Solitude

[Stephen] writes to her mother in these terms: You

insulted what to me is natural and sacred. What to
me is sacred"? Natural and sacred! Then I am asked to
say that this book is in no sense a defense of unnatural
practices between women, or a glorication, or a praise
of them, to put it perhaps not quite so strongly. Natural
and Sacred"! Good repeated three times.
Sir Chartres Birons judgment[94]
In his judgment, issued 16, November,[95] Biron applied
the Hicklin test of obscenity: a work was obscene if it
tended to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are
open to such immoral inuences. He held that the books

In St. Stephen, one of Beresford Egan's illustrations for The

Sink of Solitude, Radclye Hall is nailed to a cross. JoynsonHicks looks on, with a copy of The Well in his pocket, while Cupid makes a derisive gesture and Sappho leaps across the scene.


US publication and trial

The Sink of Solitude, an anonymous lampoon in verse

by several hands, appeared in late 1928. It satirized
both sides of the controversy over The Well of Loneliness, but its primary targets were Douglas and JoynsonHicks, Two Good Men never mind their intellect.[99]
Though the introduction, by journalist P. R. Stephensen,
described The Well's moral argument as feeble and dismissed Havelock Ellis as a psychopath, The Sink itself
endorsed the view that lesbianism was innate:
Though SAPPHO burned with a peculiar
God understands her, we must do the same,
And of such eccentricities we say
"'Tis true, 'tis pity: she was made that
It portrayed Hall, however, as a humorless moralist who
had a great deal in common with the opponents of her
novel.[99] One illustration, picking up on the theme of religious martyrdom in The Well, showed Hall nailed to a
cross. The image horried Hall; her guilt at being depicted in a drawing that she saw as blasphemous led to
her choice of a religious subject for her next novel, The
Master of the House.[101]

The symbol of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice,
depicting book burning

In New York, Sumner and several police detectives seized

865 copies of The Well from the publishers oces, and
Friede was charged with selling an obscene publication.
But Covici and Friede had already moved the printing
plates out of New York in order to continue publishing
the book. By the time the case came to trial, it had al5.4 US publication and trial
ready been reprinted six times. Despite its price of $5
novel it sold more than
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. had planned to publish The Well twice the cost of an average [102]
of Loneliness in the United States at the same time as
Cape in the United Kingdom. But after Cape moved up In the US, as in the UK, the Hicklin test of obscenity apthe publication date, Knopf found itself in the position plied, but New York case law had established that books
of publishing a book that had already been withdrawn in should be judged by their eects on adults rather than on
its home country. They refused, telling Hall that nothing children and that literary merit was relevant.[102] Ernst obthey could do would keep the book from being treated as tained statements from authors including Dreiser, Ernest
Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edna St. Vincent MilCape sold the US rights to the recently formed publish- lay, Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, H. L. Mencken,
ing house of Pascal Covici and Donald Friede. Friede Upton Sinclair, Ellen Glasgow and John Dos Passos.
had heard gossip about The Well at a party at Theodore To make sure these supporters did not go unheard, he inDreiser's house and immediately decided to acquire it. corporated their opinions into his brief. His argument
He had previously sold a copy of Dreisers An Ameri- relied on a comparison with Mademoiselle de Maupin by
can Tragedy to a Boston police ocer to create a cen- Thophile Gautier, which had been cleared of obscensorship test case, which he had lost; he was awaiting an ity in the 1922 case Halsey v. New York. Mademoiselle
appeal, which he would also lose. He took out a $10,000 de Maupin described a lesbian relationship in more exbank loan to outbid another publisher that had oered a plicit terms than The Well did. According to Ernst, The
$7,500 advance, and enlisted Morris Ernst, co-founder of Well had greater social value because it was more serious
made a case against misunderstanding and
the American Civil Liberties Union, to defend the book in tone and[102]
against legal challenges. Friede invited John Saxton Sumner of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice
to buy a copy directly from him, to ensure that he, not a
bookseller, would be the one prosecuted. He also travelled to Boston to give a copy to the Watch and Ward
Society, hoping both to further challenge censorship of
literature and to generate more publicity; he was disappointed when they told him they saw nothing wrong with
the book.[102]

In an opinion issued on 19 February 1929, Magistrate Hyman Bushel declined to take the books literary qualities
into account and said The Well was calculated to deprave
and corrupt minds open to its immoral inuences. Under New York law, however, Bushel was not a trier of fact;
he could only remand the case to the New York Court of
Special Sessions for judgment. On 19 April, that court
issued a three-paragraph decision stating that The Well's


theme a delicate social problem did not violate the 6 Other 1928 lesbian
law unless written in such a way as to make it obscene.
After a careful reading of the entire book, they cleared See also: Lesbian literature
it of all charges.[102]


Covici-Friede then imported a copy of the Pegasus Press

edition from France as a further test case and to solidify the books U.S. copyright.[102] Customs barred the
book from entering the country, which might also have
prevented it from being shipped from state to state.[104]
The United States Customs Court, however, ruled that
the book did not contain one word, phrase, sentence or
paragraph which could be truthfully pointed out as oensive to modesty.[105]

Three other novels with lesbian themes were published

in England in 1928: Elizabeth Bowen's The Hotel,
Virginia Woolf's Orlando and Compton MacKenzie's
satirical novel Extraordinary Women. None of them
were banned.[112] The Hotel, like earlier English novels
in which critics have identied lesbian themes, is marked
by complete reticence,[112] while Orlando may have been
protected by its Modernist playfulness.[113] The Home
Oce considered prosecuting Extraordinary Women, but
concluded that it lacked the earnestness of The Well and
would not inspire readers to adopt the practices referred
to.[114] Mackenzie was disappointed; he had hoped a
De5.5 Subsequent publication and availabil- censorship case would increase his books sales.
spite advertising that tried to cash in on the controversy
over The Well by announcing that Radclye Hall was the
model for one of the characters,[116] it sold only 2,000
The Pegasus Press edition of the book remained available copies.[115]
in France, and some copies made their way into the UK. A fourth 1928 novel, Ladies Almanack by the American
In a Letter from Paris in The New Yorker, Janet Flanner writer Djuna Barnes, not only contains a character based
reported that it sold most heavily at the news vendors cart on Radclye Hall but includes passages that may be a rethat served passengers travelling to London on La Fleche sponse to The Well.[117] Ladies Almanack is a roman
clef of a lesbian literary and artistic circle in Paris, writIn 1946, three years after Halls death, Troubridge wanted
to include The Well in a Collected Memorial Edition of
Halls works. Peter Davies of the Windmill Press wrote
to the Home Oce's legal advisor to ask whether the
post-war Labour administration would allow the book
to be republished. Unknown to Troubridge, however,
he added a postscript saying I am not really anxious to
do The Well of Loneliness and am rather relieved than
otherwise by any lack of enthusiasm I may encounter
in ocial circles. Home Secretary James Chuter Ede
told Troubridge that any publisher reprinting the book
would risk prosecution.[107] In 1949, however, Falcon
Press brought out an edition with no legal challenge.[108]
The Well has been in print continuously ever since and
has been translated into at least 14 languages.[97] In the
1960s it was still selling 100,000 copies a year in the
United States alone.[109] Looking back on the controversy
in 1972, Flanner remarked on how unlikely it seemed that
a rather innocent book like The Well could have created
such a scandal.[106] In 1974, it was read to the British public on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime.[110]

ten in an archaic, Rabelaisian style and starring Natalie

Barney as Dame Evangeline Musset. Much as Sir Phillip
paces his study worrying about Stephen, Dame Mussets
father pac[es] his library in the most normal of NightShirts. When, unlike Sir Phillip, he confronts his daughter, she replies condently: Thou, good Governor, wast
expecting a Son when you lay atop of your Choosing ....
Am I not doing after your very Desire, and is it not the
more commendable, seeing that I do it without the Tools
for the Trade, and yet nothing complain?"[118] Ladies Almanack is far more overtly sexual than The Well; its cryptic style, full of in-jokes and ornate language, may have
been intended to disguise its content from censors.[119] It
could not in any case be prosecuted by the Home Oce,
since it was published only in France, in a small, privately
printed edition. It did not become widely available until

7 Social impact and legacy

In 1921, Lord Birkenhead, the Lord Chancellor of Great

Britain, had opposed a bill that would have criminalized lesbianism on the grounds that of every thousand
5.6 Copyright status
women ... 999 have never even heard a whisper of
these practices.[121] Actually, awareness of lesbianism
The copyright protection for The Well of Loneliness ex- had been gradually increasing since World War I, but it
pired in the European Union on January 1, 2014.[111] Be- was still a subject most people had never heard of, or
cause of the URAA, copyright protection in the United perhaps just preferred to ignore.[122] The Well of LoneStates will continue until at least 2024.
liness made sexual inversion a subject of household con-

in the '50s, it was the only source of information about
lesbianism.[133] The Well's name recognition made it possible to nd when bookstores and libraries did not yet
have sections devoted to LGBT literature.[134] As late as
1994, an article in Feminist Review noted that The Well
regularly appears in coming-out stories and not just
those of older lesbians.[135] It has often been mocked:
Terry Castle says that like many bookish lesbians I seem
to have spent much of my adult life making jokes about
it, and Mary Renault, who read it in 1938, remembered
laughing at its earnest humourlessness and impermissible allowance of self-pity.[136] Yet it has also produced
powerful emotional responses, both positive and negaJames Douglass editorial in the Sunday Express, August 19, tive. One woman was so angry at the thought of how The
Well would aect an isolated emerging lesbian that she
wrote a note in the library book, to tell other readers that
women loving women can be beautiful.[137] A Holocaust
versation for the rst time.[123] The banning of the book survivor said, Remembering that book, I wanted to live
drew so much attention to the very subject it was in- long enough to kiss another woman.[138]
tended to suppress that it left British authorities wary
of further attempts to censor books for lesbian content. In the 1970s and early '80s, when lesbian feminists reIn 1935, after a complaint about a health book enti- jected the butch and femme identities that Halls novel
tled The Single Woman and Her Emotional Problems, a had helped to dene, writers like Jane Rule and Blanche
Home Oce memo noted: It is notorious that the pros- Wiesen Cook criticized The Well for dening lesbianism
as well as for presenting lesbian
ecution of the Well Of Loneliness resulted in innitely in terms of masculinity,
the novel has had its degreater publicity about lesbianism than if there had been
as well, notably
no prosecution.
Alison Hennegan, pointing to the fact that the novel did
James Douglas illustrated his denunciation of The Well raise awareness of homosexuality among the British pubwith a photograph of Radclye Hall in a silk smoking lic and cleared the way for later work that would tackle
jacket and bow tie, holding a cigarette and monocle. She gay and lesbian issues.[140]
was also wearing a straight knee-length skirt, but later
have tended to focus on
Sunday Express articles cropped the photo so tightly that it In more recent criticism, critics
but The Well's reputabecame dicult to tell she was not wearing trousers.
novel ever written[142]
Halls style of dress was not scandalous in the 1920s; short
hairstyles were common, and the combination of tailored persists and is still controversial. Some critics see the
jackets and short skirts was a recognized fashion, dis- book as reinforcing homophobic beliefs, while others arits depiction of shame are
cussed in magazines as the severely masculine look.[126] gue that the books tragedy and
Some lesbians, like Hall, adopted variations of the style as
a way of signalling their sexuality, but it was a code that The Well's ideas and attitudes now strike many readers as
only a few knew how to read.[127] With the controversy dated, and few critics praise its literary quality.[144] Nevover The Well of Loneliness, Hall became the public face ertheless, it continues to compel critical attention, to proof sexual inversion, and all women who favored mascu- voke strong identication and intense emotional reactions
line fashions came under new scrutiny.[128] Lesbian jour- in some readers, and to elicit a high level of personal ennalist Evelyn Irons who considered Halls style of dress gagement from its critics.[145]
rather eeminate compared to her own said that after the publication of The Well, truck drivers would call
out on the street to any woman who wore a collar and tie:
Oh, you're Miss Radclye Hall.[129] Some welcomed 8 Adaptations
their newfound visibility: when Hall spoke at a luncheon
in 1932, the audience was full of women who had imi- Wilette Kershaw, an American actress who was staging
tated her look.[130] But in a study of lesbian women in Salt banned plays in Paris, proposed a dramatization of The
Lake City in the 1920s and '30s, nearly all regretted the Well of Loneliness. Hall accepted a 100 advance, but
publication of The Well because it had drawn unwanted when she and Troubridge saw Kershaw act, they found her
attention to them.[131]
too feminine for the role of Stephen. Hall tried to void the
In a study of a working class lesbian community in
Bualo, New York in the 1940s and '50s, The Well of
Loneliness was the only work of lesbian literature anyone had read or heard of.[132] For many young lesbians

contract on a technicality, but Kershaw refused to change

her plans. The play opened on 2 September 1930. No
playwright was credited, implying that Hall had written
the adaptation herself; it was actually written by one of


roommate she seduced to nd love with a fullback. A
critic for the Motion Picture Herald reported that during
the lms run in Los Angeles in 1937 as a double feature with Love Life of a Gorilla a self-identied doctor
appeared after the screening to sell pamphlets purporting
to explain homosexuality. He was arrested for selling obscene literature.[152]

9 See also
10 Notes
[1] Hall, 437; Munt, 213.
[2] Quotation from Hall, 313. For accounts of the British trial
and the events leading up to it, see Souhami, 192241, and
Cline, 225267. For a detailed examination of controversies over The Well of Loneliness in the 1920s, see chapter 1
of Doan, Fashioning Sapphism. An overview can be found
in the introduction to Doan & Prosser, Palatable Poison,
which also reprints the full text of several contemporary
reviews and reactions, including the Sunday Express editorial and Chief Magistrate Sir Chartres Birons legal judgment.
[3] A detailed discussion of the US trials can be found in Taylor, I Made Up My Mind.
[4] See Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, chapter 5.
[5] Cook, 718719, 731.

Poster for a New York showing of Children of Loneliness

Kershaws ex-husbands, who reworked the story to make

it more upbeat.[146] According to Janet Flanner, who reported on the opening night for The New Yorker, Kershaw made up in costume what she lacked in psychology, with designer boots, breeches and riding crop. Then
she changed into a white dress for a nal speech in which
she begged humanity, 'already used to earthquakes and
murderers,' to try to put up with a minor calamity like
the plays and the books Lesbian protagonist, Stephen
Gordon.[147] Hall threatened a lawsuit to stop the production, but the issue soon became moot, since the play
closed after only a few nights. The public skirmish between Hall and Kershaw increased sales of the novel.[148]
A 1951 French lm set in a girls boarding school was
released in the United States as The Pit of Loneliness to
capitalize on the notoriety of The Well,[149] but was actually adapted from the novel Olivia,[150] now known to
have been written by Dorothy Bussy.[151] A mid-1930s
exploitation lm, Children of Loneliness, claimed to be
inspired by The Well. However, little of Halls novel can
be discerned in its story of a butch lesbian who is blinded
with acid and run over by a truck, freeing the nave young

[6] O'Rourkes Reections on the Well of Loneliness contains

a reader response survey. See also Love, Hard Times and
[7] For an overview of critical responses and controversies,
see the introduction to Doan & Prosser, Palatable Poison.
[8] Souhami, 159, 172.
[9] Baker, Our Three Selves, 188.
[10] Souhami, 164, 171.
[11] Quoted in Souhami, 181.
[12] Rodriguez, 274.
[13] Baker, Our Three Selves, 210.
[14] Hall, 13.
[15] Kennedy.
[16] Hall, 15.
[17] Hall, 147149.
[18] Hall, 201.
[19] Green, 284285.
[20] Hall, 379.
[21] Hall, 437.


[22] In particular, Halls early biographers Lovat Dickson and

Richard Ormrod; their work is criticized in O'Rourke,
[23] Franks, 137; Cline, 1620.
[24] Hall, 340.

[50] Quotation from Hall, 352. Baker, Our Three Selves, 218,
connects these aspects of the novel with sexology.
[51] Hemmings, 189194; Marshik.
[52] Cline, 81; Doan, Sapphos Apotheosis, 88
[53] Souhami, 99.

[25] Franks, 137 and 139n13; Baker, Our Three Selves, 214;
Souhami, 174.

[54] Cline, 143.

[26] Souhami, 166.

[55] Halberstam, 156, notes the signicance of Stephens


[27] Rosner, 327330.

[28] Baker, Our Three Selves, 216, 247.
[29] Hall, 271272.
[30] Hall, 387.
[31] Quotation from Hall, 271. Interpretation from Medd,
241245, and Kent, 223224.
[32] Rosner, 323324.
[33] Souhami, 173.
[34] Rosner, 323; Castle, The Apparitional Lesbian, 142144.
[35] Rosner, 324.
[36] Quotation from Hall, 352; interpretation from Rodriguez,

[56] Hall, 2122.

[57] Munt, 202, 207.
[58] Hall, 434.
[59] Terry Castle discusses this scene in light of Halls interest
in spiritualism in The Apparitional Lesbian, 4952.
[60] Hall, 205.
[61] Medd, 242.
[62] Souhami, 167168; Munt, 213; Stimpson, 368.
[63] In his decision condemning the book, Sir Chartres Biron
called the references to God singularly inappropriate and
disgusting. Biron, 48.
[64] Munt, 213.

[38] Cline, 273274.

[65] Cline, 235238. For more on the practice of setting a

high price for books with dangerous subject matter, see

[39] Baker, Our Three Selves, 253254.

[66] Baker, Our Three Selves, 208209.

[40] Cline, 227, 273.

[67] For example, the anonymous reviewers in Glasgow Herald, August 9, 1928, and North Mail and Newcastle Chronicle, August 11, 1928; both reprinted in Doan & Prosser,
57 and 61.

[37] Hall, 356, 387.

[41] Love. Diana Souhami's comments on the subject are particularly sharp; she says Hall might have acknowledged
the privilege, seductions, freedom, and fun that graced
her daily life (173) and, in response to Halls claim to
be writing on behalf of some of the most persecuted and
misunderstood people in the world, remarks It is doubtful whether Radclye Hall and Una, Natalie Barney ...
and the rest, with their ne houses, stylish lovers, inherited incomes, sparkling careers and villas in the sun, were
among the most persecuted and misunderstood people in
the world. (18182)
[42] Quotation from Hall, 388389. Interpretation from Cline,

[68] Doan & Prosser, A Selection of Early Reviews, 5073;

see also Doan & Prosser, Introduction, 45.
[69] Doan & Prosser, 5; Souhami, 213.
[70] Con O'Leary, August 11, 1928, in Doan & Prosser, 61.
[71] Doan & Prosser, 1011; Doan, 15.
[72] Doan & Prosser, 11.
[73] Douglas, 3638.

[43] Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 126.

[74] Souhami, 194196.

[44] Rule, 82.

[75] Cline, 247248; Souhami, 204206.

[45] Hall, 204.

[76] Souhami, 207210.

[46] Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 141150.

[77] Cline, 245246; Doan & Prosser, 6970.

[47] Faderman, 317325.

[78] Doan & Prosser, 67.

[48] Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 26.

[79] Doan & Prosser, 13.

[49] Taylor, The Masculine Soul, 288289.

[80] Cline, 246.



[81] Doan, 19.

[116] Baker, Our Three Selves, 254255.

[82] Franks, 94, and Cline, 252258.

[117] Barnes, xxxi.

[83] Winning, 376.

[118] Barnes, 8. Susan Sniader Lanser notes the resemblance of

this scene to The Well; Barnes, xxxv.

[84] Cline, 248249.

[85] Doan & Prosser, 14, and Souhami, 173.
[86] Miller, pp. 18788
[87] Souhami, 211.
[88] Souhami, 197.
[89] Cline, 256258.
[90] Souhami, 225.
[91] Cline, 260.
[92] Souhami, 216, 225226.
[93] Souhami, 226227.
[94] Biron, 44.
[95] Miller, p. 189
[96] Biron, 3949.
[97] Kitch.
[98] Souhami, 233235.

[119] Barnes, xlixlii.

[120] Barnes, xvxviii.
[121] Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 132136.
[122] Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 25.
[123] Whitlock, 559.
[124] Baker, How Censors Held the Line.
[125] Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 185191.
[126] Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 114117 and passim.
[127] Langer, 45 and Elliott, 74.
[128] Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 27, 193.
[129] Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 113, 123.
[130] Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 124125.
[131] Bullough, 897.
[132] Kennedy and Davis, 34.

[100] Doan, Sapphos Apotheosis, 9596.

[133] "[M]ost of us lesbians in the 1950s grew up knowing nothing about lesbianism except Stephen Gordons swagger
[and] Stephen Gordons breeches. Cook, 719.

[101] Baker, Our Three Selves, 257; Cline, 280.

[134] O'Rourke, 115.

[102] Taylor, I Made Up My Mind, passim.

[135] Dunn, 107.

[103] Cline, 271.

[136] Castle, Afterword, 394; Renault, 281.

[99] Doan, Sapphos Apotheosis, 88.

[104] Customs Seeks to Bar 'Well of Loneliness". New York [137] O'Rourke, 128.
Times. 16 May 1929. p. 18.
[138] Stevens.
[105] "'Well Of Loneliness Held Not Oensive. New York
[139] Cook, 731; Doan & Prosser, 1516; Halberstam, 146.
Times. 27 July 1929. p. 11.
The word joyless is Cooks. Walker, 21, notes the inuence of The Well on butch and femme.
[106] Flanner, 48.
[107] Souhami, 405406.

[140] Hennegan 1982

[108] Baker, Our Three Selves, 353.

[141] Doan & Prosser, 17; Love.

[109] Newton, 103n6.

[142] Walker, 21.

[110] Baker, Our Three Selves, 353 and 374n1.

[143] Love; Newton, 90; Munt, 213.

[111] Chapter 48, Duration of copyright, Section 12. Copy- [144] "[T]o many [students], especially some younger lesbian
students for whom the coming out process has been relaright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The National
tively painless, The Well is an aront, an out-dated, unArchives (UK). Retrieved 10 May 2012.
believable, ugly insult to their self-image and to their self[112] Foster, 281287.
esteem. Hopkins. Claudia Stillman Franks said in 1982
that very few critics have ever given the novel itself high
[113] Winning, 375; Parkes.
praise. On the contrary, they often point out that stylistically, the work is marred by inated language and stilted
[114] Marshik.
dialogue (125). Doan & Prosser state that in 1990s crit[115] Souhami, 237.
icism the persistent implication is that if Hall had only


been a better writer, she might have been a better modernist and certainly a better lesbian. Terry Castle, summing up a 2001 collection of essays on The Well, notes
that "[t]heir authors are all in varying degree ... quick to
acknowledge their own frustrations with Halls often monstrously overwrought parable (Afterword, 398).
[145] Doan & Prosser say that "[t]he novel continues to unsettle and provoke. Generations of feminists ... may have
dismissed or celebrated the novel ... but they have never
ignored it (2). Castle refers to its uncanny rhetorical
power a power unaected by its manifest failures as a
work of art to activate readerly feeling ... Something
in the very pathos of Stephen Gordons torment ... provokes an exorbitant identication in us. Whoever we are,
we tend to see ourselves in her. She also notes a level of
emotional seriousness and personal engagement one seldom sees in criticism of The Well (Afterword, 399
[146] Cline, 277279, and Souhami, 250259.
[147] Flanner, 71. Kershaws wardrobe change for the curtain
speech is noted in Baker, Our Three Selves, 265.
[148] Cline, 277278.
[149] Russo, 102.
[150] Anon. (May 3, 1954). "New Picture". Time. Retrieved
on 2007-01-18.
[151] Rodriguez, 40.
[152] Barrios, 158160.



Baker, Michael (1985). Our Three Selves: A Life

of Radclye Hall. London: GMP Publishers Ltd.
ISBN 0-85449-042-6.
Baker, Simon (4 October 2005). How Censors
Held Line against Lesbians. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
Barale, Michle Aina (1991). Below the Belt:
(Un)Covering The Well of Loneliness". Fuss, Diana (ed.) (1991). Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay
Theories. New York: Routledge. pp. 235258.
ISBN 0-415-90237-1.
Barrios, Richard (2003). Screened Out: Playing Gay
in Hollywood from Edison to Stonewall. New York:
Routledge. ISBN 0-415-92328-X.
Barnes, Djuna; with an introduction by Susan Sniader Lanser (1992). Ladies Almanack. New York:
New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-1180-4.
Bullough, Vern; Bullough, Bonnie (1977). Lesbianism in the 1920s and 1930s: A Newfound
Study. Signs 2 (4): 895904. doi:10.1086/493419.
ISSN 0097-9740.

Castle, Terry (1993). The Apparitional Lesbian:

Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture. New
York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-23107652-5.
Cline, Sally (1998). Radclye Hall: A Woman
Called John. Woodstock & New York: The Overlook Press. ISBN 0-87951-708-5.
Cohler, Deborah (2000). 2000 MLA Convention: Economies of Writing. Retrieved 2006-1128. |chapter= ignored (help)
Cook, Blanche Wiesen (1979). "'Women Alone Stir
My Imagination': Lesbianism and the Cultural Tradition. Signs 4 (4): 718739. doi:10.1086/493659.
ISSN 0097-9740.
Doan, Laura (2001). Fashioning Sapphism: The
Origins of a Modern English Lesbian Culture. New
York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-23111007-3.
Doan, Laura (2004). Sapphos Apotheosis? Radclye Halls Queer Kinship with the Watchdogs
of the Lord. Sexuality & Culture 8 (2): 80
106. doi:10.1007/s12119-004-1013-2. ISSN 10955143.
Doan, Laura; Prosser, Jay (2001). Palatable Poison: Critical Perspectives on The Well of Loneliness.
New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231-11875-9.
Biron, Sir Chartres (1928). Judgment.
Doan & Prosser, 3949.
Castle, Terry (2001). Afterword: It Was
Good, Good, Good". Doan & Prosser,
Douglas, James (1928). A Book That
Must Be Suppressed. Doan & Prosser,
Halberstam, Judith (2001). "'A Writer
of Mists: 'John' Radclye Hall and
the Discourse of Inversion. Doan &
Prosser, 145161.
Hemmings, Clare (2001). "'All My Life
I've Been Waiting for Something...': Theorizing Femme Narrative in The Well of
Loneliness. Doan & Prosser, 179196.
Kent, Susan Kingsley (2001). The Well
of Loneliness as War Novel. Doan &
Prosser, 216231.
Medd, Jodie (2001). War Wounds: The
Nation, Shell Shock, and Psychoanalysis in The Well of Loneliness". Doan &
Prosser, 232254.
Munt, Sally R. (2001). "The Well of
Shame. Doan & Prosser, 199215.


Newton, Esther (1989). The Mythic
Mannish Lesbian: Radclye Hall and
The New Woman. Doan & Prosser, 89


Hennegan, Alison (1982). Introduction to Radclye

Halls Well of Loneliness. London: Virago Modern
Classics. ISBN 0-86068-254-4.

Prosser, Jay (2001). ";'Some Primitive

Thing Conceived in a Turbulent Age of
Transition': The Transsexual Emerging
from The Well". Doan & Prosser, 129

Hopkins, Annis H. (1998). Is She or Isn't She? Using Academic Controversy and The Well Of Loneliness to Introduce the Social Construction of Lesbianism. Archived from the original on 2004-0910. Retrieved 2006-12-27.

Rosner, Victoria (2001). Once More

unto the Breach: The Well of Loneliness
and the Spaces of Inversion. Doan &
Prosser, 316335.

Kennedy, Hubert (2004). Ulrichs, Karl Heinrich.

glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture. Retrieved 200612-05.

Rule, Jane (1975). Radclye Hall.

Doan & Prosser, 7788.
Winning, Joanne (2001). Writing by the
Light of The Well: Radclye Hall and the
Lesbian Modernists. Doan & Prosser,
Dunn, Sara; Warland, Betsy; Munt, Sally (1994).
Inversions: Writings by Dykes, Queers and
Lesbians by Betsy Warland; New Lesbian
Criticism: Literary and Cultural Readings by
Sally Munt. Feminist Review (46): 106108.
doi:10.2307/1395428. ISSN 0141-7789.
Elliott, Bridget. Performing the Picture or Painting the Other: Romaine Brooks, Gluck and the
Question of Decadence in 1923. Deepwell, Katy
(1998). Women Artists and Modernism. Manchester
and New York: Manchester University Press. ISBN
Faderman, Lillian (1981). Surpassing the Love
of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love between
Women from the Renaissance to the Present. New
York: Quill. ISBN 0-688-00396-6.

Kennedy, Elizabeth Lapovsky; Madeline D. Davis

(1994). Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community. New York: Penguin.
ISBN 0-14-023550-7.
Kitch, Tasmin (2003-09-11). The Times Book
Club and The Well of Loneliness. Times Online.
Retrieved 2006-12-03.
Langer, Cassandra; Chadwick, Whitney; Lucchesi,
Joe (Autumn 2001 Winter 2002). Review of
Amazons in the Drawing Room: The Art of Romaine Brooks by Whitney Chadwick; Joe Lucchesi.
Womans Art Journal (Womans Art Journal, Vol.
22, No. 2) 22 (2): 4447. doi:10.2307/1358903.
ISSN 0270-7993. JSTOR 1358903.
Love, Heather (2000).
Hard Times and
Heartaches: Radclye Halls The Well of Loneliness. Journal of Lesbian Studies 4 (2): 115128.
doi:10.1300/J155v04n02_08. ISSN 1089-4160.

Flanner, Janet (1979). Paris was Yesterday: 1925

1939. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-005068-X.

Marshik, Celia (2003). Historys Abrupt Revenges": Censoring Wars Perversions in The
Well of Loneliness and Sleeveless Errand. Journal of Modern Literature 26 (2): 145159.
doi:10.1353/jml.2004.0019. ISSN 0022-281X.

Foster, Jeanette H. (1956). Sex Variant Women

in Literature: A Historical and Quantitative Survey.
New York: Vantage Press.

Miller, Neil (1995). Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present. New York,
Vintage Books. ISBN 0-09-957691-0.

Franks, Claudia Stillman (1982). Stephen Gordon,

Novelist: A Re-Evaluation of Radclye Halls The
Well of Loneliness. Tulsa Studies in Womens Literature (Tulsa Studies in Womens Literature, Vol. 1,
No. 2) 1 (2): 125139. doi:10.2307/464075. ISSN
0732-7730. JSTOR 464075.
Green, Laura (2003). Hall of Mirrors: Radclye
Halls The Well of Loneliness and Modernist Fictions of Identity. Twentieth Century Literature 49
(3): 277. doi:10.2307/3175982. ISSN 0041-462X.
Hall, Radclye (1981). The Well of Loneliness.
New York: Avon. ISBN 0-380-54247-1.

Nin, Anas (1986). Henry and June. New York:

Harcourt, Inc. p. 133. ISBN 0-15-640057-X.
O'Rourke, Rebecca (1989). Reecting on The Well
of Loneliness. London and New York: Routledge.
ISBN 0-415-01841-2.
Parkes, Adam (1994).
Lesbianism, History,
and Censorship: The Well of Loneliness and the
Suppressed Randiness of Virginia Woolfs Orlando. Twentieth Century Literature 40 (4): 434.
doi:10.2307/441599. ISSN 0041-462X.This article

Renault, Mary (1984). The Friendly Young Ladies.
New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-394-73369X.

Radclye Hall at Times Online including correspondence, document facsimiles, and text of legal judgments

Rodriguez, Suzanne (2002). Wild Heart: A Life:

Natalie Cliord Barney and the Decadence of Literary Paris. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06093780-7.

Well of Loneliness courtesy of Project Gutenberg


Russo, Vito (1987). The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies. New York: Harper & Row.
ISBN 0-06-096132-5.
Scha, Barbara (1998).
Third International
Congress on Sex and Gender. Retrieved 2007-0118. |chapter= ignored (help)
Souhami, Diana (1999). The Trials of Radclye
Hall. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-489412.
Stevens, Lillian L. (14 July 1990). Texas Lesbians,
in Particular; The Third Annual Texas Lesbian Conference Builds on the Past with a Promise for the
Future. Gay Community News. p. 16.
Stimpson, Catharine R. (Winter 1981). Zero Degree Deviancy: The Lesbian Novel in English. Critical Inquiry 8 (2): 363379. doi:10.1086/448159.
ISSN 0093-1896.
Taylor, Leslie A. (2001). "'I Made Up My Mind
to Get It': The American Trial of The Well of
Loneliness, New York City, 19281929. Journal of the History of Sexuality 10 (2): 250286.
doi:10.1353/sex.2001.0042. ISSN 1043-4070.
Taylor, Melanie A. (1998). "'The Masculine
Soul Heaving in the Female Bosom': Theories of inversion and The Well of Loneliness. Journal of Gender Studies 7 (3): 287
296. doi:10.1080/09589236.1998.9960722. ISSN
Walker, Lisa (2001). Looking Like What You Are:
Sexual Style, Race, and Lesbian Identity. New York:
NYU Press. ISBN 0-8147-9372-X.
Whitlock, Gillian (1987). ""Everything is Out of
Place": Radclye Hall and the Lesbian Literary Tradition. Feminist Studies (Feminist Studies, Vol. 13,
No. 3) 13 (3): 554582. doi:10.2307/3177881.
ISSN 0046-3663. JSTOR 3177881.


External links

Facsimiles of correspondence relating to the seizure

of The Well of Loneliness at The National Archives
Letter by Radclye Hall about the writing of The
Well at the Lesbian Herstory Archives





Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses


The Well of Loneliness Source: Contributors: Jahsonic, AlexR, Tpbradbury, Mackensen, Warofdreams, GPHemsley, Bearcat, Walloon, Kaldari, DNewhall, DragonySixtyseven, Klemen
Kocjancic, YUL89YYZ, Nkedel, Carbon Caryatid, Kouban, GregorB, Cuchullain, BD2412, Ketiltrout, Rjwilmsi, Tim!, Koavf, Unlikelyheroine, Brighterorange, Ecelan, Marta.Paczynska, Quentin X, RussBot, CanadianCaesar, Critical.solvent, Gaius Cornelius, Eddie.willers,
Tne80, Retired username, RL0919, Paul Magnussen, Nikkimaria, Mr-Thomas, SmackBot, Kintetsubualo, Kevinalewis, Chris the speller,
Jprg1966, G.dallorto, Colonies Chris, Philip Howard, John, Chienloup, Mr Stephen, Collywolly, AdultSwim, Gpscholar, NThurston,
Dev920, Zotdragon, ShelfSkewed, Michaelas10, DumbBOT, Nabokov, Thijs!bot, Llewellyn of the Lakes, John Smythe, Antique Rose,
Tjmayerinsf, Robina Fox, Celithemis, Alphawave, Hullaballoo Wolfowitz, , MikkoK, M-le-mot-dit, Ontarioboy, STBotD, GrahamHardy, Xnuala, VolkovBot, Nite-Sirk, Lightmouse, Dabomb87, LarRan, Drmies, Piledhigheranddeeper, DragonBot, No such user,
Another Believer, Good Olfactory, Addbot, DOI bot, 89diehl, Jarble, CountryBot, Luckas-bot, Yobot, AnomieBOT, Mike Hayes, Citation
bot, Xqbot, GrouchoBot, Wikignome0529, Shiver of recognition, Citation bot 1, Full-date unlinking bot, EmausBot, ZroBot, Brandmeister, ClueBot NG, John Jiezuberband, Harley Hudson, Lowercase sigmabot, George Ponderevo, CitationCleanerBot, Harizotoh9, BattyBot,
DarafshBot, Dexbot, Sir Don Juan, Diana Wyndham, Monkbot, LawrencePrincipe, Diana Bassplayer and Anonymous: 37



File:Atget_-_Temple_of_Friendship_at_20_Rue_Jacob.jpg Source:

Temple_of_Friendship_at_20_Rue_Jacob.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: Le Temple de l'Amiti ( Original
artist: Eugne Atget (French, 18571927), reproduction : Baptiste Essevaz-Roulet
File:Book_collection.jpg Source: License: CC BY-SA 3.0
Contributors: ? Original artist: ?
File:Children_of_Loneliness.jpg Source: License: ? Contributors: ? Original artist: ?
File:Cscr-featured.svg Source: License: ? Contributors: ? Original
artist: ?
File:Hackett_Lowther_ambulances.jpg Source: License: ? Contributors: ? Original artist: ?
File:Natalie_Barney_in_Fur_Cape.jpg Source:
jpg License: Public domain Contributors: Smithsonian Institution Original artist: Alice Pike Barney
NewYorkSocietyForTheSuppressionOfVice.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: Public-domain image due to age, found at Original artist: Uploaded by User Apeloverage on en.wikipedia
File:Nuvola_LGBT_flag.svg Source: License: Public
domain Contributors:
Adapted from: Nuvola_Ugandan_ag.svg using colors from Gay_ag.svg Original artist: Nuvola_Ugandan_ag.svg: Antigoni
File:Radclyffe_Hall_-_Sunday_Express.gif Source:
Express.gif License: ? Contributors: ? Original artist: ?

File:Temple_de_L'Amour3.jpg Source: License: ? Contributors: ? Original artist: ?

File:The_Sink_of_Solitude.gif Source: License: Fair use
Laura Doan, Sapphos Apotheosis? Radclye Halls Queer Kinship with the Watchdogs of the Lord, p. 84
Original artist:
Beresford Egan
File:Woman-power_emblem.svg Source: License:
Public domain Contributors: Made by myself, based on a character outline in the (PostScript Type 1) Fnord Hodge-Podge Discordian fonts
version 2 by toa267 (declared by him to be Public Domain). I chose the color to be kind of equally intermediate between red, pink, and
lavender (without being any one of the three...). Original artist: AnonMoos, toa267


Content license

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0