Radclyffe Hall: A Woman Called John

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Overlook Press, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 434 pages
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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 (1998)

The author of several books, Sally Cline is the recipient of an Arts Council Writers Award (1995) for outstanding literary merit for her work on this book and a Harry Ransom Research Center Fellowship for her work on her forthcoming biography of the novelist Radclyffe Hall. She was for many years Co-Course organizer for Women's Studies at Cambridge University.

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