Radclyffe Hall: A Woman Called John

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Overlook Press, Jun 1, 1999 - Biography & Autobiography - 434 pages
Radclyffe Hall was a legend in her own lifetime and her fame has never faded. She was also a lesbian, which became part of that legend. Christened Marguerite, a shy child with golden curls and Victorian muslin dresses, she became - at a time when men wore the trousers - a flamboyant character who smoked small green cigars, cross-dressed in Chinese silk smoking jackets, and called herself John. In 1928, when she was forty-eight, her fifth novel, The Well of Loneliness, was banned for obscenity, despite protests from leading literary and political figures, turning the book into a bestseller and bringing Hall literary fame.
First a serious poet and novelist, then a cause celebre, Hall was also a sometime feminist, a member of the Natalie Barney-Djuna Barnes Paris circle, and a Catholic convert who believed in spiritualism. In this, the first major biography of this influential, ultra-flamboyant lesbian novelist, Sally Cline uses new material to explore the connections among Hall's writing, life, and milieu, meticulously analyzing the effects on a writer of her readiness to become a martyr to a cause.

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RADCLYFFE HALL: A Woman Called John

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This workmanlike biography is a welcome fleshing out of a writer still largely known for just one of her books, the pioneering lesbian apologia The Well of Loneliness. Cambridge University scholar ... Read full review


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About the author (1999)

Sally Cline teaches at Cambridge University.

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