The Well of Loneliness, Paperback

The Well of Loneliness Paperback

Part of the VMC series

3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


A powerful novel of love between women, THE WELL OF LONELINESS brought about the most famous legal trial for obscenity in the history of British law.

Banned on publication in 1928, it then went on to become a classic bestseller.

Stephen Gordon (named by a father desperate for a son) is not like other girls: she hunts, she fences, she reads books, wears trousers and longs to cut her hair.

As she grows up amidst the stifling grandeur of Morton Hall, the locals begin to draw away from her, aware of some indefinable thing that sets her apart. And when Stephen Gordon reaches maturity, she falls passionately in love - with another woman.




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A fascinating book. When I started it I thought it was going to read as a fictional autobiography - and it sort of did, though it turned out in the end more like a five hundred page long character study. The last fifty or so pages were heartbreaking, and the tragic conclusion was inevitable, and beautiful in a sad sort of way. I started this book for my school English Literature project - as a book to compare with Tipping The Velvet. More than any other LGBT book I've read (though admittedly I'm only on about number twenty) Stephen's internal conflicts and struggles were perfectly transcribed and inspired an enormous amount of sympathy in me. More than I had thought it would do, it enabled me to get past how outdated this book is in its treatment of 'inversion'. As a product of the early twentieth century, Radclyffe Hall is over-apologetic about her characters' sexualities and reduces Brockett (the only gay male character in the book) to a meaningless stereotype that the book could really do without. Despite this, no one could read about Stephen watching Mary leave, or the deaths of Jamie and Barbara, and say that the book presents lesbianism as anything other than a natural and valid way of living a life. Having read it now, rather than just read about it, the obscenity trial and controversy that originally surrounded it seem barbaric. Even when people read it, it was actually condemned for its portrayal of homosexuality when it should have been able to open up people's minds to be more accepting.

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