On this day in history : 16th November 1928 – Marguerite Radclyffe Hall, English author and poet, attends trial at Bow Street Court – at which her book ‘The Well of Loneliness’ is banned for obscenity….

NPG x136620; Radclyffe Hall by Unknown photographer
Marguerite Radclyffe Hall – unknown photographer, public domain

The book is the only one of Hall’s eight novels to have a lesbian theme – Hall was a lesbian herself…. The book was not sexually explicit – a kiss on the lips was as racy as it got – but it covered an extremely taboo subject at the time…. Those in high places (and that included the Government) decided they did not like the ‘unnatural offences’ portrayed in the book….and so took the measures to prosecute…. They gathered ‘evidence’ from senior doctors to determine that ‘The Well of Loneliness’ would encourage female homosexuality….

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James Douglas’s editorial in the Sunday Express, 19th of August 1928 – Fair use

On the day of the trial the court room was crowded…. Magistrate Sir Chartres Biron ruled the book to be obscene and that all copies were to be destroyed…. On leaving court, Hall was heard saying to friends “Believe me, the end is only the beginning”….

‘The Well of Loneliness’ was finally released in 1949 – six years after the death in October 1943 of Marguerite Radclyffe Hall – and has been by far her most successful novel….

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Fair use

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