She's best known as the author of The Well of Loneliness
, "the one lesbian novel everyone has heard of," feminist scholar Sally Cline wittily remarks. But in her lifetime (1880-1943), Radclyffe Hall was a popular writer who deliberately courted controversy with her fifth novel, banned as obscene in 1928 after one of the 20th century's most notorious literary trials. Cline devotes valuable critical attention to Hall's other books, and to a flamboyant personal life (a virtual who's who of homosexual Britain) that was at odds with her political and religious conservatism.
From Library Journal
Claiming access to new literary and personal material, Cambridge professor Cline aims to cover the entire life of Radclyffe Hall (1880-1943) and not simply the period of her most famous work, The Well of Loneliness, often considered the first lesbian novel. But though she successfully considers new facets of Hall's life, such as her Catholicism and her involvement in politics, which led many to see her as more than a lesbian novelist, there is little here that was not already covered in Michael Baker's Our Three Selves: The Life of Radclyffe Hall (LJ 10/15/85). And though this new biography is enjoyable and highly readable, it suffers from a couple of stylistic problems, one being the problem of naming. Hall was born Marguerite but was later known as Marguerite Radclyffe-Hall and then Radclyffe Hall and called John by her friends, and Cline refers to her by the name appropriate for the time period being discussed, which can be confusing. Recommended for large academic libraries with substantial women's studies collections.?Kim Woodbridge, Drexel Univ., Philadelphia
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