Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Well of Loneliness - by Radclyffe Hall

Originally published in 1928, and promptly banned in England, this fictionalized account of the author's own life was cutting-edge lesbian writing in its day.

Born into wealth and privilege Stephen (her parents wanted a son) nevertheless has a difficult time growing up realizing that she is somehow different from her peers. As an adult she recognizes her desires, and is asked to leave the family estate (Morton) by her un-understanding mother. She had shared a love of books with her father, Sir Philip, who "had one of the finest libraries in England". Before his early death the two had read and discussed literature together. She also discovered after he died that he had divined his daughter's inclinations from having read the works of Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing whose work, with her late father's marginalia, was kept on a special bookcase in his study.

Eventually Stephen settles in Paris with her partner Mary who is very much interested in Stephen's earlier life, although she would never welcomed in Morton
Mary would want to be told about Morton...she would make Stephen get out the photographs of her father, of her mother whom Mary thought lovely...Then Stephen must tell her of the life in London, and afterwards of the new house in Paris; must talk of her own career and ambitions, though Mary had not read either of her (Stephen's) novels-there had never been a library subscription.
 There was no "subscription" necessary for me to read Hall's book. I checked it out with my library card at the free public library in my town.

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