Event: Returning to The Well: Radclyffe Hall and the Marketing of Lesbian Pulp Fiction


Shawna Lipton, Washington State University Vancouver and Prof. Ann Martin, University of Saskatchewan

Date and Location:

Thursday 10 September 2015
Room 301, Murray Library, University Archives and Special Collections Reading Room


The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall was the target of a highly publicized obscenity trial, which led to the book being banned in Britain in 1928. The publicity surrounding the novel made its strikingly stylish author a lesbian icon. This talk addresses the legacy of The Well in mainstream and LGBTQ visions of gender and sexuality and uses materials from the Neil Richards Collection of Sexual and Gender Diversity to showcase multiple editions and cover images of Radclyffe’s Hall’s most famous novel—and its subsequent influence on the lesbian pulp fiction of the 1950s and 1960s.  The role of Hall and The Well of Loneliness in marketing pre-Stonewall lesbian pulp fiction, and especially the complex relationship between “serious” literary fiction and mass-market paperbacks, will be explored through this interdisciplinary and transhistorical consideration of how the archives can be queered through lived experience. 


The Interdisciplinary Centre for Culture and Creativity, College of Arts and Science
University Library, University Archives and Special Collections
The Department of English, College of Arts and Science

A special display of various editions of The Well of Loneliness will be up in the University Archives and Special Collections reading room throughout the month of September. If you would like to know more about Radclyffe Hall, check it out!