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Born Marguerite Radclyffe Hall, the writer called herself John as an adult. Educated at King's College, London, Hall began her career writing poetry set to music and performed prominently before World War I. Under the influence of the socialite Mabel Batten, Hall became devoutly Roman Catholic and met Una, Lady Troubridge, who was to become Hall's lifelong companion. The Well of Loneliness (1928), a frank and touching portrayal of lesbian sensibilities, was banned in Britain and America (despite George Bernard Shaw's comment that the novel told of things people should know about), nearly ruining her literary career. Copies of the book were widely confiscated; censors expressed moral outrage, especially because Hall's characters showed no contrition for their "vices" and were portrayed sympathetically. Despite aggressive attempts at censorship, though, audiences clamored for the novel, which attained a strong popularity. Hall wrote of lesbianism as natural and pleaded for tolerance, yet her writing manifests a degree of guilt that in some way affirms her society's widespread prejudice that homosexuality was a deformity. Despite her fierce defense of The Well of Loneliness, none of Hall's later writing explicitly deals with homosexual themes. Still, though Hall was less self-accepting than contemporary gay writers, The Well of Loneliness endures as a relatively rare and valuable documentation of lesbian lives and aesthetics in the early twentieth century. (Bowker Author Biography)
— biography from The Well of Loneliness
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