The Obscenity Trial of Miss Radclyffe Hall's novel, 'The Well of Loneliness' - 16 November 1928 | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


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

Radcylffe Hall
Sheffield Independent | 17 November 1928

‘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.

Newspaper article, Hull Daily Mail, banned book
Banned book, destruction ordered | Hull Daily Mail | 16 November 1928

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


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

  • 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.

  • I have read this book very recently, not knowing it existed for all these years, I am 73. I have to say what overwhelms me the most is the depth of love expressed, and, after all is said, should it not be about love, whether homosexual or otherwise. The book is beautifully written, sensitive and careful and I am so pleased to have found it. Discrimination of any kind is a scourge. Let us all accept people as individuals and not categorise, we are all different and unique.

  • This is a very amazing post by the author for us to read.

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