Hall, Radclyffe (1880–1943) By Gunn, Julian
Radclyffe Hall was a British novelist, poet, and lyricist. A contemporary of the Bloomsbury Group and proponent of Havelock Ellis's sexological theories, Hall is best known for the ground-breaking novel of sexual inversion, The Well of Loneliness (1928). The novel was the center of a landmark obscenity trial, and has continued to attract controversy. Its depiction of inversion has been both lauded and criticized by feminist, queer, and trans theorists.
Hall was born Marguerite Antonia Radclyffe-Hall on August 12, 1880 to wealthy parents who divorced in 1883. She briefly attended King's College London and spent a year studying in Germany. In 1912 Hall converted to Catholicism with her partner at the time, the singer Mabel Batten. At Batten’s request, Hall did not serve in the women’s ambulance corps during the Great War (Baker). However, a number of Hall’s fictional characters find autonomy and sexual identity through their war service.