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The Well of Loneliness

Radclyffe Hall

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Confident of a son, Sir Philip and Lady Anna Gordon plan to name their first child Stephen. Instead they receive a daughter—but they decide to keep the name anyway. Young Stephen Gordon continues to surprise her parents with her boisterous play, demands for shorter hair, and insistence on riding her horse astride. After a childhood crush on a housemaid, Stephen begins to realize for herself that she is different than the world expects. As Stephen grows into adulthood and leaves her home and then England, her life is continually shaped by her love and affection for other women.

Radclyffe Hall, like her protagonist, had a number of romantic relationships with other women, and identified herself as an “invert” following the theory of sexual inversion that was developing at the time. Hall wrote the novel partly to promote the theory and directly references some of its advocates within the book.

The novel caused a sensation when it was published, leading to parodies, imitators, and even a theatrical adaptation. Pressure on the publisher to censor the novel led them to stop printing it in England, only to quickly import copies from France to meet demand. Today it remains a touchstone of queer fiction.

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A brief history of this ebook

  1. Finish metadata and initial publication

  2. Add non-breaking hyphens to words

  3. Update metadata boilerplate

  4. Update templates to new standards

  5. Increase song indents to mirror page scans

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