The Well of Loneliness

Editor of the Sunday Express in 1928, wrote, “I would rather give a healthy boy or a healthy girl a phial of prussic acid than this novel

History has shown that book reviews can often be marred by what is socially acceptable. Some books have outraged, offended and ultimately banned because people in the past and in some cases our present deem them immoral or play them down because an authors subject, sexual orientation, color, race, religion, gender, even an author’s name can affect the way a book is received.

This isn’t a literary review based on a novel’s merits but downright prejudice.

One book in particular was banned OUT RIGHT because the subject represented lesbians.

The Book, 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 existence”.

Below is an article published in the New York Times in 1928.


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