The Obscenity Trial of Miss Radclyffe Hall’s novel, ‘The Well of Loneliness’ – 16 November 1928

Posted on November 15th, 2013 by The British Newspaper Archive

‘Give us also the right to our existence’

At Bow Street in London on 16 November 1928, Miss Radclyffe Hall’s novel, ‘The Well of Loneliness’, found itself in the dock on a charge of obscenity.

The powers-that-be had decided that they did not like the novel’s ‘unnatural offences’ – hence the decision to prosecute.

The magistrate eventually decided that the book was obscene and ordered that it be destroyed.

Here is a newspaper story that reports on this famous literary court case.

historical newspaper report on ratclyffe hall

Hull Daily Mail – Friday 16 November 1928

Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000324/19281116/118/0014

  • Judy Kimberley

    I read the book “Well of Loneliness” when I was 12 and I have never forgotten it. It helped me understand how hard it was to be ‘different’ in a society that treated homosexuals as criminals. We have come a long way since then and need to go a bit further to accept that some people are born with homosexual tendencies through no fault of their own. I am 72 and no I am not homosexual.

    • The British Newspaper Archive

      Hi Judy,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Yes, it’s a really important novel – we don’t think it would be banned today.
      But it’s fascinating to see just how heated the exchanges were in the court room about the novel.
      And we especially like Miss Radclyffe Hall sticking up for the book.
      Changed days indeed!
      Kind regards,
      The BNA Team.

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