The Well of Loneliness
The Well of Loneliness is a lesbian novel by British author Radclyffe
Hall that was first published in 1928 by Jonathan Cape. It follows the
life of Stephen Gordon, an Englishwoman from an upper-class family
whose "sexual inversion" (homosexuality) is apparent from an early
age. She finds love with Mary Llewellyn, whom she meets while serving
as an ambulance driver in World War I, but their happiness together is
marred by social isolation and rejection, which Hall depicts as
typically suffered by "inverts", with predictably debilitating
effects. The novel portrays "inversion" as a natural, God-given state
and makes an explicit plea: "Give us also the right to our
The novel became the target of a campaign by James Douglas, editor of
the Sunday Express, 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". In the United States the book
survived legal challenges in New York state and in Customs Court.
Publicity over The Well of Loneliness's legal battles increased the
visibility of lesbians in British and American culture. For decades
it was the best-known lesbian novel in English, and often the first
source of information about lesbianism that young people could
find. Some readers have valued it, while others have criticised it
for Stephen's expressions of self-hatred, and viewed it as inspiring
shame. Its role in promoting images of lesbians as "mannish" or
cross-dressed women has also been controversial. Although critics
differ as to the value of
The Well of Loneliness
The Well of Loneliness as a work of
literature, its treatment of sexuality and gender continues to inspire
study and debate.
2 Plot summary
3 Autobiographical and other sources
3.1 World War I
3.2 Paris lesbian and gay subculture
4 Religious, philosophical and scientific content
4.2 Christianity and spiritualism
5 Publication and contemporary response
Sunday Express campaign
5.2 UK trial
5.3 The Sink of Solitude
5.4 US publication and trial
5.5 Subsequent publication and availability
5.6 Copyright status
6 Other 1928 lesbian novels
7 Social impact and legacy
8 Adaptations and derivative works
11 External links
Radclyffe Hall was at the height of her career. Her novel
Adam's 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. 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. Since she knew she was
risking scandal and "the shipwreck of her whole career", she sought
and received the blessing of her partner, Una Troubridge, before she
began work. Her goals were social and political; she wanted to end
public silence about homosexuality and bring about "a more tolerant
understanding" – as well as to "spur all classes of inverts to
make good through hard work...and sober and useful living".
In April 1928 she told her editor that her new book would require
complete commitment from its publisher and that she would not allow
even one word to be altered. "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
Natalie Barney, an American who lived and held a literary salon in
Paris, was the model for Valérie Seymour.
The book's protagonist, Stephen Gordon, is born in the late Victorian
era to upper-class parents in
Worcestershire who are expecting a
boy and who christen her with the name they had already chosen. Even
at birth she is physically unusual, a "narrow-hipped, wide-shouldered
little tadpole of a baby". 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 footman.
Stephen's father, Sir Phillip, dotes on her; he seeks to understand
her through the writings of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first modern
writer to propose a theory of homosexuality, but does not share
his findings with Stephen. Her mother, Lady Anna, is distant, seeing
Stephen as a "blemished, unworthy, maimed reproduction" of Sir
Phillip. At eighteen, Stephen forms a close friendship with a
Canadian man, Martin Hallam, but is horrified 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.
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 neighbour. Angela uses Stephen as
an "anodyne against boredom", allowing her "a few rather schoolgirlish
kisses". Then Stephen discovers that Angela is having an affair
with a man. Fearing exposure, Angela shows a letter from Stephen to
her husband, who sends a copy to Stephen's 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." After the argument,
Stephen goes to her father's study and for the first time opens his
locked bookcase. She finds a book by Krafft-Ebing – assumed by
critics to be Psychopathia Sexualis, a text about homosexuality and
paraphilias – and, reading it, learns that she is an
Stephen moves to London and writes a well-received first 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 first, brief contact with urban invert culture, meeting the
lesbian salon hostess Valérie 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 first, 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 her with "a more normal and complete
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 affair with
Valérie Seymour to drive her into Martin's arms. The novel ends with
Stephen's plea to God: "Give us also the right to our existence!"
Autobiographical and other sources
Although some writers in the 1970s and 1980s treated The Well of
Loneliness as a thinly veiled autobiography, Hall's childhood bore
little resemblance to Stephen's. Angela Crossby may be a composite
of various women with whom Hall had affairs in her youth, but Mary,
whose lack of outside interests leaves her idle when Stephen is
working, does not resemble Hall's partner Una Troubridge, an
accomplished sculptor who translated Colette's novels into
English. Hall said she drew on herself only for the "fundamental
emotions that are characteristic of the inverted".
World War I
Women of the Hackett Lowther Unit working on ambulances
Although Hall's author's 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
women's 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. In later years she said the character of Stephen was
based on her, which may have been partly true.
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". This military metaphor
continues later in the novel when inverts in postwar Paris are
repeatedly referred to as a "miserable army". 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 God's good people".
Paris lesbian and gay subculture
Marie Antoinette's Temple of Love near the Petit Trianon, Versailles,
where Stephen and Brockett visit
In Hall's 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. Marcel
Proust's novels continued in their influence upon 1920s Parisian
society depicting lesbian and gay subculture. When Stephen first
travels to Paris, at the urging of her friend Jonathan
Brockett – who may be based on Noël Coward – 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 rumoured relationship with the
Princesse de Lamballe.
The Temple of Friendship at Natalie Barney's home at 20, Rue Jacob
Brockett next introduces Stephen to Valérie Seymour, who –
like her prototype, Natalie Clifford Barney – is the
hostess of a literary salon, many of whose guests are lesbians and gay
men. Immediately after this meeting Stephen announces she has decided
to settle in Paris at 35 Rue Jacob (purchased at Seymour's
recommendation), with its temple in a corner of an overgrown garden.
Barney lived and held her salon at 20 Rue Jacob. Stephen is wary
of Valérie, and does not visit her salon until after the war, when
Brockett persuades her that Mary is becoming too isolated. She finds
Valérie to be an "indestructible creature" capable of bestowing a
sense of self-respect on others, at least temporarily: "everyone felt
very normal and brave when they gathered together at Valérie
Seymour's". With Stephen's misgivings "drugged", she and Mary are
drawn further into the "desolate country" of Paris gay life. At Alec's
Bar – the worst in a series of depressing nightspots –
they encounter "the battered remnants of men who...despised of the
world, must despise themselves beyond all hope, it seemed, of
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". Hall's correspondence shows that the
negative view of bars like Alec's that she expressed in The Well was
sincerely meant, but she also knew that such bars did not
represent the only homosexual communities in Paris. It is a
commonplace of criticism that her own experience of lesbian life was
not as miserable as Stephen's. By focusing on misery and
describing its cause as "ceaseless persecution" by "the so-called just
and righteous", she intensified the urgency of her plea for
Religious, philosophical and scientific content
The Well of Loneliness
The Well of Loneliness in part to popularise the ideas of
sexologists such as Richard von
Krafft-Ebing and Havelock Ellis, who
regarded homosexuality as an inborn and unalterable trait: congenital
sexual inversion. In Krafft-Ebing's
Psychopathia Sexualis (1886),
the first book Stephen finds in her father's study, inversion is
described as a degenerative disorder common in families with histories
of mental illness. Exposure to these ideas leads Stephen to
describe herself and other inverts as "hideously maimed and ugly".
Later texts such as Sexual Inversion (1896) by Havelock Ellis –
who contributed a foreword to The Well – described inversion
simply as a difference, not as a defect. By 1901
adopted a similar view. 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
The term sexual inversion implied gender role reversal. Female inverts
were, to a greater or lesser degree, inclined to traditionally male
pursuits and dress; according to Krafft-Ebing, they had a
Krafft-Ebing believed that the most extreme inverts
also exhibited reversal of secondary sex characteristics; Ellis's
research had not demonstrated any such physical differences, but he
devoted a great deal of study to the search for them. The idea
appears in The Well in Stephen's unusual proportions at birth and in
the scene set at Valerie Seymour's salon, where "the timbre of a
voice, the build of an ankle, the texture of a hand" reveals the
inversion of the guests.
Christianity and spiritualism
Hall, who had converted to the
Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church in 1912, was
devoutly religious. She was also a believer in communication with
the dead who had once hoped to become a medium – a fact
that brought her into conflict with the church, which condemned
spiritualism. Both these beliefs made their way into The Well of
Stephen, born on Christmas Eve and named for the first martyr of
Christianity, dreams as a child that "in some queer way she [is]
Jesus". When she discovers that Collins, object of her childhood
crush, has housemaid's knee, she prays that the affliction 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".
This childish desire for martyrdom prefigures Stephen's ultimate
self-sacrifice for Mary's sake. After she tricks Mary into leaving
her – carrying out a plan that leads Valérie to exclaim "you
were made for a martyr!" – 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 finally possess her.
It is with their collective voice that she demands of God, "Give us
also the right to our existence".
After Stephen reads
Krafft-Ebing in her father's library, she opens
the Bible at random, seeking a sign, and reads Genesis 4:15, "And the
Lord set a mark upon Cain ..." Hall uses the mark of Cain, a
sign of shame and exile, throughout the novel as a metaphor for the
situation of inverts. Her defence of inversion took the form of a
religious argument: God had created inverts, so humanity should accept
them. The Well's use of religious imagery outraged the book's
opponents, but Hall's vision of inversion as a God-given state was
an influential contribution to the language of LGBT rights.
Publication and contemporary response
Three publishers praised The Well but turned it down. Hall's 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.
Publication, originally scheduled for late 1928, was brought forward
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 proved 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 27 July, in a black cover with a plain
jacket. Cape sent review copies only to newspapers and magazines he
thought would handle the subject matter non-sensationally.
Early reviews were mixed. Some critics found the novel too
preachy; others, including Leonard Woolf, thought it was poorly
structured, or complained of sloppiness in style. There was praise for
its sincerity and artistry, and some expressed sympathy with Hall's
moral argument. 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. A review in T.P.'s &
Cassell's Weekly foresaw no difficulties for The Well: "One cannot say
what effect 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 offence.'"
Sunday Express campaign
James Douglas, editor of the Sunday Express, did not agree. Douglas
was a dedicated moralist, an exponent of muscular Christianity, which
sought to reinvigorate the
Church of England
Church of England by promoting physical
health and manliness. His colourfully worded editorials on subjects
such as "the flapper vote" (that is, the extension of suffrage 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 affairs of
great men and women of the past.
[T]he adroitness and cleverness of the book intensifies its moral
danger. It is a seductive and insidious piece of special pleading
designed to display perverted decadence as a martyrdom inflicted upon
these outcasts by a cruel society. It flings 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", Sunday Express, 19
Douglas's campaign against
The Well of Loneliness
The Well of Loneliness began on 18 August,
with poster and billboard advertising and a teaser in the Daily
Express promising to expose "A Book That Should Be Suppressed". 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.
In what Hall described as an act of "imbecility coupled with momentary
Jonathan Cape sent a copy of The Well to the Home Secretary
for his opinion, offering to withdraw the book if it would be in the
public interest to do so. The
Home Secretary was William
Joynson-Hicks, a Conservative known for his crackdowns on alcohol,
nightclubs and gambling, as well as for his opposition to a revised
version of The Book of Common Prayer. He took only two days to reply
that The Well was "gravely detrimental to the public interest"; if
Cape did not withdraw it voluntarily, criminal proceedings would be
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-mâché moulds of the type to
Paris, and by 28 September, 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 bookshop shelves soon came to the attention of the Home
Office. On 3 October Joynson-Hicks issued a warrant for shipments of
the book to be seized.
One consignment of 250 copies was stopped at Dover. Then the Chairman
Board of Customs
Board of Customs balked. He had read The Well and considered it
a fine book, not at all obscene; he wanted no part of suppressing it.
On 19 October he released the seized copies for delivery to Leopold
Hill's 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
From its beginning, the Sunday Express's campaign drew the attention
of other papers. Some backed Douglas, including the Sunday Chronicle,
The People and Truth. The Daily News and Westminster Gazette ran a
review that, without commenting on Douglas's action, said the novel
"present[ed] as a martyr a woman in the grip of a vice". Most of
the British press defended The Well. 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.
Country Life and Lady's Pictorial both ran positive reviews.
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 find nothing
harmful. Dawson also printed a scathing condemnation of the Home
H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells and
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw and started a
counter-campaign that helped Hall obtain statements of support from
National Union of Railwaymen
National Union of Railwaymen and the South Wales Miners'
A novelist may not wish to treat any of the subjects mentioned above
but the sense that they are prohibited or prohibitable, that there is
a taboo-list, will work on him and will make him alert and cautious
instead of surrendering himself to his creative impulses. And he will
tend to cling to subjects that are officially acceptable, such as
murder and adultery, and to shun anything original lest it bring him
into forbidden areas.
E. M. Forster
E. M. Forster and Virginia Woolf, letter to The Nation and
Leonard Woolf and
E. M. Forster
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 book's
"artistic merit – even genius". 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 its artistry. The petition
dwindled to a short letter in The Nation and Athenaeum, signed by
Forster and Virginia Woolf, that focused on the chilling effects of
censorship on writers.
The obscenity trial began on 9 November 1928. Cape's 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". About 40 turned up on the day of the
trial, including Woolf herself, Forster, and such diverse figures 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
Royal Academy of Art and
Rabbi Joseph Frederick Stern
of the East London Synagogue. Norman Haire, who was the star witness
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. None were
allowed to offer 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. "I don't think people are entitled to express an
opinion upon a matter which is the decision of the court," he
said. Since Hall herself was not on trial, she did not have the
right to her own counsel, and Cape's barrister
Norman Birkett had
persuaded her not to take the stand herself.
Birkett arrived in court two hours late. In his defence, 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 defence". 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. 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 book's treatment of its
theme was unexceptionable.
[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 defence of
unnatural practices between women, or a glorification, or a praise of
them, to put it perhaps not quite so strongly. "Natural" and "Sacred"!
"Good" repeated three times.
Sir Chartres Biron's judgment
In his judgement, issued on 16 November, 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 influences". He
held that the book's 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.
Hill and Cape appealed to the London Court of Quarter Sessions.
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 defence 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 five minutes, they upheld Biron's
The Sink of Solitude
In "St. Stephen", one of Beresford Egan's illustrations for The Sink
Radclyffe Hall is nailed to a cross. Joynson-Hicks looks
on, with a copy of The Well in his pocket, while Cupid makes a
derisive gesture and
Sappho leaps across the scene.
The Sink of Solitude, an anonymous lampoon in verse by "several
hands", appeared in late 1928. It satirised both sides of the
controversy over The Well of Loneliness, but its primary targets were
Douglas and Joynson-Hicks, "Two Good Men – never mind their
intellect". Though the introduction, by journalist P. R.
Stephensen, described The Well's moral argument as "feeble" and
Havelock Ellis as a "psychopath", The Sink itself endorsed
the view that lesbianism was innate:
Sappho burned with a peculiar flame
God understands her, we must do the same,
And of such eccentricities we say
"'Tis true, 'tis pity: she was made that way."
It portrayed Hall as a humourless moralist who had a great deal in
common with the opponents of her novel. One illustration, picking
up on the theme of religious martyrdom in The Well, showed Hall nailed
to a cross. The image horrified 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.
US publication and trial
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. had planned to publish
The Well of Loneliness
The Well of Loneliness in
the United States at the same time as Cape in the United Kingdom. But
after Cape brought forward the publication date, Knopf found itself in
the position of publishing a book that had been withdrawn in its home
country. They refused, telling Hall that nothing they could do would
keep the book from being treated as pornography.
Cape sold the US rights to the recently formed publishing house of
Pascal Covici and Donald Friede. Friede had heard gossip about The
Well at a party at Theodore Dreiser's house and immediately decided to
acquire it. He had previously sold a copy of Dreiser's An American
Tragedy to a Boston police officer to create a censorship test case,
which he had lost; he was awaiting an appeal, which he would also
lose. He took out a $10,000 bank loan to outbid another publisher
which had offered a $7,500 advance, and enlisted Morris Ernst,
co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, to defend the book
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.
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 publisher's offices, 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
already been reprinted six times. Despite its price of $5 –
twice the cost of an average novel – it sold more than 100,000
copies in its first year.
In the US, as in the UK, the
Hicklin test of obscenity applied, but
New York case law had established that books should be judged by their
effects on adults rather than on children and that literary merit was
relevant. Ernst obtained statements from authors including
Dreiser, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edna St. Vincent
Millay, Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, H. L. Mencken, Upton
Ellen Glasgow and John Dos Passos. Besides, freedom of
expression was protected by the First Amendment of the United States
Constitution. To make sure these supporters did not go unheard, he
incorporated their opinions into his brief. His argument relied on a
comparison with Mademoiselle de Maupin by Théophile Gautier, which
had been cleared of obscenity in the 1922 case Halsey v. New York.
Mademoiselle de Maupin described a lesbian relationship in more
explicit terms than The Well did. According to Ernst, The Well had
greater social value because it was more serious in tone and made a
case against misunderstanding and intolerance.
In an opinion issued on 19 February 1929, Magistrate Hyman Bushel
declined to take the book's literary qualities into account and said
The Well was "calculated to deprave and corrupt minds open to its
immoral influences". Under New York law, Bushel was not a trier of
fact; he could only remand the case to the New York Court of Special
Sessions for judgement. On 19 April, that court issued a
three-paragraph decision stating that The Well's theme – a
"delicate social problem" – did not violate the law unless
written in such a way as to make it obscene. After "a careful reading
of the entire book", they cleared it of all charges.
Covici-Friede then imported a copy of the Pegasus Press edition from
France as a further test case and to solidify the book's US
copyright. Customs barred the book from entering the country,
which might also have prevented it from being shipped from state to
United States Customs Court
United States Customs Court ruled that the book did
not contain "one word, phrase, sentence or paragraph which could be
truthfully pointed out as offensive to modesty".
Subsequent publication and availability
The Pegasus Press edition of the book remained available in France,
and some copies made their way into the UK. In a "Letter from Paris"
in The New Yorker,
Janet Flanner reported that it sold most heavily at
the news vendor's cart that served passengers travelling to London on
La Fleche D'Or.
In 1946, three years after Hall's death, Troubridge wanted to include
The Well in a Collected Memorial Edition of Hall's works. Peter Davies
of the Windmill Press wrote to the Home Office's legal adviser to ask
whether the post-war Labour administration would allow the book to be
republished. Unknown to Troubridge, he added a postscript saying "I am
not really anxious to do
The Well of Loneliness
The Well of Loneliness and am rather relieved
than otherwise by any lack of enthusiasm I may encounter in official
James Chuter Ede
James Chuter Ede told Troubridge that any
publisher reprinting the book would risk prosecution. In 1949
Falcon Press brought out an edition with no legal challenge. The
Well has been in print continuously ever since and has been translated
into at least 14 languages. In the 1960s it was still selling
100,000 copies a year in the United States alone. 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. In 1974, it was read to the British public on BBC Radio
4's Book at Bedtime.
The copyright protection for
The Well of Loneliness
The Well of Loneliness expired in the
European Union on 1 January 2014. Because of the URAA, copyright
protection in the United States will continue until at least 2024.
Other 1928 lesbian novels
Three other novels with lesbian themes were published in England in
1928: Elizabeth Bowen's The Hotel, Virginia Woolf's
Compton Mackenzie's satirical novel Extraordinary Women. None were
banned. The Hotel, like earlier English novels in which critics
have identified lesbian themes, is marked by complete reticence,
Orlando may have been protected by its Modernist
Home Office 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".
Mackenzie was disappointed; he had hoped a censorship case would
increase his book's sales. Despite advertising that tried to cash
in on the controversy over The Well by announcing that Radclyffe Hall
was the model for one of the characters, it sold only 2,000
A fourth 1928 novel, Ladies Almanack by the American writer Djuna
Barnes, not only contains a character based on
Radclyffe Hall but
includes passages that may be a response to The Well. Ladies
Almanack is a roman à clef of a lesbian literary and artistic circle
in Paris, written in an archaic, Rabelaisian style and starring
Natalie Barney as Dame Evangeline Musset. Much as Sir Phillip paces
his study worrying about Stephen, Dame Musset's father "pac[es] his
library in the most normal of Night-Shirts". When, unlike Sir Phillip,
he confronts his daughter, she replies confidently: "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?" 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. It could not in any case be prosecuted by the Home
Office, since it was published only in France, in a small, privately
printed edition. It did not become widely available until 1972.
Social impact and legacy
James Douglas's editorial in the Sunday Express, 19 August 1928
In 1921, Lord Birkenhead, the Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, had
opposed a bill that would have criminalised lesbianism on the grounds
that "of every thousand women ... 999 have never even heard a
whisper of these practices". In reality, awareness of lesbianism
had been gradually increasing since World War I, but it was still a
subject most people had never heard of, or perhaps just preferred to
The Well of Loneliness
The Well of Loneliness made sexual inversion a subject of
household conversation for the first time. The banning of the
book drew so much attention to the very subject it was intended to
suppress that it left British authorities wary of further attempts to
censor books for lesbian content. In 1935, after a complaint about a
health book entitled The Single Woman and Her Emotional Problems, a
Home Office memo noted: "It is notorious that the prosecution of the
Well Of Loneliness resulted in infinitely greater publicity about
lesbianism than if there had been no prosecution."
James Douglas illustrated his denunciation of The Well with a
Radclyffe Hall in a silk smoking jacket and bow tie,
holding a cigarette and monocle. She was also wearing a straight
knee-length skirt, but later
Sunday Express articles cropped the photo
so tightly that it became difficult to tell she was not wearing
trousers. Hall's style of dress was not scandalous in the 1920s;
short hairstyles were common, and the combination of tailored jackets
and short skirts was a recognised fashion, discussed in magazines as
the "severely masculine" look. Some lesbians, like Hall, adopted
variations of the style as a way of signalling their sexuality, but it
was a code that only a few knew how to read. With the controversy
over The Well of Loneliness, Hall became the public face of sexual
inversion, and all women who favoured masculine fashions came under
Lesbian journalist Evelyn Irons – who
considered Hall's style of dress "rather effeminate" 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 Radclyffe Hall". Some welcomed their
newfound visibility: when Hall spoke at a luncheon in 1932, the
audience was full of women who had imitated her look. But in a
study of lesbian women in Salt Lake City in the 1920s and '30s, nearly
all regretted the publication of The Well because it had drawn
unwanted attention to them.
In a study of a working-class lesbian community in Buffalo, New York,
in the 1940s and 1950s,
The Well of Loneliness
The Well of Loneliness was the only work of
lesbian literature anyone had read or heard of. For many young
lesbians in the 1950s, it was the only source of information about
lesbianism. The Well's name recognition made it possible to find
when bookstores and libraries did not yet have sections devoted to
LGBT literature. 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". 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". Yet
it has also produced powerful emotional responses, both positive and
negative. One woman was so angry at the thought of how The Well would
affect an "isolated emerging lesbian" that she "wrote a note in the
library book, to tell other readers that women loving women can be
Holocaust survivor said, "Remembering that book, I
wanted to live long enough to kiss another woman."
In the 1970s and early '80s, when lesbian feminists rejected the butch
and femme identities that Hall's novel had helped to define, writers
Jane Rule and
Blanche Wiesen Cook criticised The Well for
defining lesbianism in terms of masculinity, as well as for presenting
lesbian life as "joyless". Furthermore, The Well arguably
embodies what modern readers may regard as misogynistic and biphobic
ideas in its presentation of the femme women who experience attraction
towards Stephen but eventually end up in heterosexual relationships.
Mary’s femininity, in particular, is belittled by Hall’s
presentation of her: she is not Stephen’s equal in age, education,
family, or wealth, and so is constantly infantilised by her lover.
This, coupled with Mary’s dependence on Stephen, seems to emphasise
the supposed inferiority of the feminine to the masculine. As Clare
Hemmings argues, Mary is merely used as “a means for Stephen to
reach her own understanding of the true nature of the deviant’s
plight.” Moreover, Hemmings continues that both Mary and Angela
represent the “‘traitorous femme’ who remains untrustworthy as
she may leave you [her female lover] for a man.” The idea that
Mary’s sexuality and seemingly genuine feelings for Stephen are
invalidated by the possibility of her heterosexual relationship with
Martin may seem biphobic to modern readers. Furthermore, Hall’s
treatment of Mary as a dependant and a foil for Stephen’s
masculinity seemingly degrades femme lesbianism, or femininity in
itself, as innately untrustworthy and inferior to forms of
masculinity, whether exhibited by men or women. Alternatively, some
critics assert that The Well's queer significance extends beyond
lesbianism, arguing that the novel provides important bisexual
representation in literature.
However, the novel has had its defenders among feminists in the
academy, such as Alison Hennegan, pointing out that the novel did
raise awareness of homosexuality among the British public and cleared
the way for later work that tackled gay and lesbian issues.
In more recent criticism, critics have tended to focus on the novel's
historical context, but The Well's reputation as "the most
depressing lesbian novel ever written" persists and is still
controversial. Some critics see the book as reinforcing homophobic
beliefs, while others argue that the book's tragedy and its depiction
of shame are its most compelling aspects.
Other criticism focuses on the potential confusion of sexuality with
gender in the novel. As Jay Prosser argues, “rightly tracing
Hall’s debt to nineteenth-century sexologists, critics have wrongly
reduced sexual inversion to homosexuality.” What many refer to
as Stephen’s ‘butch lesbianism’, Prosser suggests, is actually a
transgender identity. As a child, Stephen insists that s/he is male -
“Yes, of course I’m a boy…I must be a boy ‘cause I feel
exactly like one,” – and, when talking to her/his mother, Stephen
claims that, “All my life I’ve never felt like a woman, and you
know it.” Through Stephen’s final rejection of Mary, ostensibly so
that Mary can participate in a heterosexual relationship with Martin
and therefore have a more secure life, Prosser surmises that
“Stephen affirms her identification with the heterosexual
man”, thus rejecting lesbianism and instead aligning
her/himself with the male.
The Well's ideas and attitudes now strike many readers as dated, and
few critics praise its literary quality. Nevertheless, it
continues to compel critical attention, to provoke strong
identification and intense emotional reactions in some readers, and to
elicit a high level of personal engagement from its critics.
Adaptations and derivative works
Poster for a New York showing of Children of Loneliness
Willette Kershaw, an American actress who was staging banned plays in
Paris, proposed a dramatisation of The Well of Loneliness. Hall
accepted a £100 advance, but when she and Troubridge saw Kershaw act,
they found her too feminine for the role of Stephen. Hall tried to
void the 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 Kershaw's ex-husbands, who reworked the
story to make it more upbeat. 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 final
speech in which she "begged humanity, 'already used to earthquakes and
murderers', to try to put up with a minor calamity like the play's and
Lesbian protagonist, Stephen Gordon". 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.
A 1951 French film set in a girls' boarding school was released in the
United States as The Pit of Loneliness to capitalise on the notoriety
of The Well, but was actually adapted from the novel Olivia,
now known to have been written by Dorothy Bussy. A mid-1930s
exploitation film, Children of Loneliness, stated it was "inspired by"
The Well. Little of Hall's novel can be discerned in its story of a
butch lesbian who is blinded with acid and run over by a truck,
freeing the naïve young roommate she seduced to find love with a
fullback. A critic for the
Motion Picture Herald reported that during
the film's run in Los Angeles in 1937 – as a double feature
with Love Life of a Gorilla – a self-identified "doctor"
appeared after the screening to sell pamphlets purporting to explain
homosexuality. He was arrested for selling obscene literature.
In 1983, American performance artist Holly Hughes wrote a satirical
play, The Well of Horniness, whose title is inspired by that of Hall's
novel. The play is described as "a high-camp, low-brow Sapphic murder
mystery" presented "in the cliff-hanging style of an old-time radio
In 1985, the Mexican writer and social activist Nancy Cárdenas
produced a play based on the novel. The play was staged in Mexico
City's Fru Fru Theatre and was performed by
Irma Serrano and Sonia
^ Hall, 437; Munt, 213.
^ Quotation from Hall, 313. For accounts of the British trial and the
events leading up to it, see Souhami, 192–241, and Cline, 225–267.
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
Chief Magistrate Sir Chartres Biron's legal judgement.
^ A detailed discussion of the US trials can be found in Taylor, "I
Made Up My Mind".
^ See Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, chapter 5.
^ Cook, 718–719, 731.
^ O'Rourke's Reflections on the Well of Loneliness contains a reader
response survey. See also Love, "Hard Times and Heartaches".
^ For an overview of critical responses and controversies, see the
introduction to Doan & Prosser, Palatable Poison.
^ Souhami, 159, 172.
^ Baker, Our Three Selves, 188.
^ Souhami, 164, 171.
^ Quoted in Souhami, 181.
^ Rodriguez, 274.
^ Baker, Our Three Selves, 210.
^ Hall, 13.
^ Hall, 15.
^ Hall, 147–149.
^ Hall, 201.
^ Green, 284–285.
^ Hall, 379.
^ Hall, 437.
^ In particular, Hall's early biographers Lovat Dickson and Richard
Ormrod; their work is criticised in O'Rourke, 101–103.
^ Franks, 137; Cline, 16–20.
^ Hall, 340.
^ Franks, 137 and 139n13; Baker, Our Three Selves, 214; Souhami, 174.
^ Souhami, 166.
^ Rosner, 327–330.
^ Baker, Our Three Selves, 216, 247.
^ Hall, 271–272.
^ Hall, 387.
^ Quotation from Hall, 271. Interpretation from Medd, 241–245, and
^ Rosner, 323–324.
^ a b Souhami, 173.
^ Rosner, 323; Castle, The Apparitional Lesbian, 142–144.
^ Rosner, 324.
^ Quotation from Hall, 352; interpretation from Rodriguez, 275.
^ Hall, 356, 387.
^ Cline, 273–274.
^ Baker, Our Three Selves, 253–254.
^ Cline, 227, 273.
^ 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 Hall's claim to be writing on behalf of some of the most
persecuted and misunderstood people in the world, remarks "It is
Radclyffe Hall and Una, Natalie Barney...and the
rest, with their fine houses, stylish lovers, inherited incomes,
sparkling careers and villas in the sun, were among the most
persecuted and misunderstood people in the world." (181–82)
^ Quotation from Hall, 388–389. Interpretation from Cline, 227.
^ Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 126.
^ Rule, 82.
^ Hall, 204.
^ Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 141–150.
^ Faderman, 317–325.
^ Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 26.
^ Taylor, "The Masculine Soul", 288–289.
^ Quotation from Hall, 352. Baker, Our Three Selves, 218, connects
these aspects of the novel with sexology.
^ Hemmings, 189–194; Marshik.
^ Cline, 81; Doan, "Sappho's Apotheosis", 88
^ Souhami, 99.
^ Cline, 143.
^ Halberstam, 156, notes the significance of Stephen's name.
^ Hall, 21–22.
^ Munt, 202, 207.
^ Hall, 434.
Terry Castle discusses this scene in light of Hall's interest in
spiritualism in The Apparitional Lesbian, 49–52.
^ Hall, 205.
^ Medd, 242.
^ Souhami, 167–168; Munt, 213; Stimpson, 368.
^ In his decision condemning the book, Sir
Chartres Biron called the
references to God "singularly inappropriate and disgusting". Biron,
^ Munt, 213.
^ Cline, 235–238. For more on the practice of setting a high price
for books with "dangerous" subject matter, see Cohler.
^ Baker, Our Three Selves, 208–209.
^ For example, the anonymous reviewers in Glasgow's Herald, 9 August
1928, and the North Mail and Newcastle Chronicle, 11 August 1928; both
reprinted in Doan & Prosser, 57 and 61.
^ Doan & Prosser, "A Selection of Early Reviews", 50–73; see
also Doan & Prosser, "Introduction", 4–5.
^ Doan & Prosser, 5; Souhami, 213.
^ Con O'Leary, 11 August 1928, in Doan & Prosser, 61.
^ Doan & Prosser, 10–11; Doan, 15.
^ Doan & Prosser, 11.
^ Douglas, 36–38.
^ Souhami, 194–196.
^ Cline, 247–248; Souhami, 204–206.
^ Souhami, 207–210.
^ Cline, 245–246; Doan & Prosser, 69–70.
^ Doan & Prosser, 67.
^ a b Doan & Prosser, 13.
^ Cline, 246.
^ Doan, 19.
^ Franks, 94, and Cline, 252–258.
^ a b Winning, 376.
^ Cline, 248–249.
^ Doan & Prosser, 14, and Souhami, 173.
^ Miller, pp. 187—88
^ Souhami, 211.
^ Souhami, 197.
^ a b Cline, 256–258.
^ Souhami, 225.
^ Cline, 260.
^ Souhami, 216, 225–226.
^ Souhami, 226–227.
^ Biron, 44.
^ Miller, p. 189
^ Biron, 39–49.
^ a b Kitch.
^ Souhami, 233–235.
^ a b Doan, "Sappho's Apotheosis", 88.
^ Doan, "Sappho's Apotheosis", 95–96.
^ Baker, Our Three Selves, 257; Cline, 280.
^ a b c d e f g Taylor, "I Made Up My Mind", passim.
^ Cline, 271.
^ "Customs Seeks to Bar 'Well of Loneliness'". The New York Times. 16
May 1929. p. 18.
^ "'Well of Loneliness' Held Not Offensive". The New York Times. 27
July 1929. p. 11.
^ a b Flanner, 48.
^ Souhami, 405–406.
^ Baker, Our Three Selves, 353.
^ Newton, 103n6.
^ Baker, Our Three Selves, 353 and 374n1.
^ "Chapter 48, Duration of copyright, Section 12". Copyright, Designs
and Patents Act 1988. The National Archives (UK). Retrieved 10 May
^ a b Foster, 281–287.
^ Winning, 375; Parkes.
^ a b Souhami, 237.
^ Baker, Our Three Selves, 254–255.
^ Barnes, xxxi.
^ Barnes, 8. Susan Sniader Lanser notes the resemblance of this scene
to The Well; Barnes, xxxv.
^ Barnes, xli–xlii.
^ Barnes, xv–xviii.
^ Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 132–136.
^ Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 25.
^ Whitlock, 559.
^ Baker, "How Censors Held the Line".
^ Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 185–191.
^ Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 114–117 and passim.
^ Langer, 45 and Elliott, 74.
^ Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 27, 193.
^ Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 113, 123.
^ Doan, Fashioning Sapphism, 124–125.
^ Bullough, 897.
^ Kennedy and Davis, 34.
^ "[M]ost of us lesbians in the 1950s grew up knowing nothing about
lesbianism except Stephen Gordon's swagger [and] Stephen Gordon's
breeches". Cook, 719.
^ O'Rourke, 115.
^ Dunn, 107.
^ Castle, "Afterword", 394; Renault, 281.
^ O'Rourke, 128.
^ Cook, 731; Doan & Prosser, 15–16; Halberstam, 146. The word
"joyless" is Cook's. Walker, 21, notes the influence of The Well on
butch and femme.
^ Hemmings, Clare (2001). ""All My Life I've Been Waiting For
Femme Narrative in The Well of Loneliness".
In Doan, Laura; Prosser, Jay. Palatable Poison: Critical Perspectives
on The Well of Loneliness. New York: Columbia University Press.
p. 181. ISBN 978-0-231-11874-3.
^ Hemmings, Clare (2001). ""All My Life I've Been Waiting For
Femme Narrative in The Well of Loneliness".
In Doan, Laura; Prosser, Jay. Palatable Poisons: Critical Perspectives
on The Well of Loneliness. New York: Columbia University Press.
p. 180. ISBN 978-0-231-11874-3.
^ Erickson-Schroth, Laura; Mitchell, Jennifer (25 November 2009).
"Queering Queer Theory, or Why Bisexuality Matters". Journal of
Bisexuality (9:3-4). doi:10.1080/15299710903316596. Retrieved 4 May
^ Hennegan 1982
^ Doan & Prosser, 17; Love.
^ Walker, 21.
^ Love; Newton, 90; Munt, 213.
^ Prosser, Jay (1998). Second Skins: The Body Narratives of
Transsexuality. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 137.
^ Prosser, Jay (1998). Second Skins: The Body Narratives of
Transsexuality. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 169.
^ "[T]o many [students], especially some younger lesbian students for
whom the coming out process has been relatively painless, The Well is
an affront, an out-dated, unbelievable, ugly insult to their
self-image and to their self-esteem." Hopkins. Claudia Stillman Franks
said in 1982 that "very few critics have ever given the novel itself
high praise. On the contrary, they often point out that stylistically,
the work is marred by inflated language and stilted dialogue" (125).
Doan & Prosser state that in 1990s criticism "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 Hall's often monstrously overwrought
parable" ("Afterword", 398).
^ 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 unaffected by its manifest
failures as a work of art – to activate readerly
feeling ... Something in the very pathos of Stephen Gordon's
torment ... provokes an exorbitant identification 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", 399–400).
^ Cline, 277–279, and Souhami, 250–259.
^ Flanner, 71. Kershaw's wardrobe change for the curtain speech is
noted in Baker, Our Three Selves, 265.
^ Cline, 277–278.
^ Russo, 102.
^ Anon. (3 May 1954). "New Picture". Time. Retrieved on 18 January
^ Rodriguez, 40.
^ Barrios, 158–160.
^ Historical Review of the Theater of Mexico: The Well of Loneliness
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Facsimiles of correspondence relating to the seizure of The Well of
Loneliness at The National Archives
Radclyffe Hall about the writing of The Well at the Lesbian
Radclyffe Hall at Times Online including correspondence, document
facsimiles, and text of legal judgments
Well of Loneliness courtesy of Project Gutenberg Australia