Radclyffe Hall

(1880 - 1943 / Bournemouth, Hampshire)

Biography of Radclyffe Hall

Radclyffe Hall (born Marguerite Radclyffe-Hall on 12 August 1880 – 7 October 1943) was an English poet and author, best known for the lesbian classic The Well of Loneliness.

Marguerite Radclyffe Hall was born at 'Sunny Lawn', Durley Road, in Bournemouth, Hampshire (now Dorset) in 1880, to a wealthy philandering father and quarrelsome mother. Lonely while growing up (her parents separated when she was a baby and she was virtually ignored by her mother and stepfather), she was educated at King's College London, and then in Germany.

Hall was a lesbian and described herself as a "congenital invert", a term taken from the writings of Havelock Ellis and other turn-of-the-century sexologists. Having reached adulthood without a vocation, she spent much of her twenties pursuing women she eventually lost to marriage.

In 1907 at the Homburg spa in Germany, Hall met Mabel Batten, a well-known amateur singer of lieder. Batten (nicknamed "Ladye") was 51 to Hall's 27, and was married with an adult daughter and grandchildren. They fell in love, and after Batten's husband died they set up residence together. Batten gave Hall the nickname John, which she used the rest of her life.

In 1915 Hall fell in love with Mabel Batten's cousin Una Troubridge (1887–1963), a sculptor who was the wife of Vice-Admiral Ernest Troubridge, and the mother of a young daughter. Mabel Batten died the following year, and in 1917 Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge began living together. The relationship would last until Hall's death. In 1934 Hall fell in love with Russian émigré Evguenia Souline and embarked upon a long-term affair with her, which Troubridge painfully tolerated. Hall became involved in affairs with other women throughout the years, possibly including blues singer Ethel Waters.

Hall lived with Troubridge in London and, during the 1930s, in the tiny town of Rye, East Sussex, noted for its many writers, including her contemporary the novelist E.F. Benson. She died at age 63 of colon cancer, and is interred at Highgate Cemetery in North London. The vault containing her remains is in the Circle of Lebanon, half way round from the Egyptian Avenue entrance.

In 1930 Radclyffe Hall received the Gold Medal of the Eichelbergher Humane Award. She was a member of the PEN club, the Council of the Society for Psychical Research and a fellow of the Zoological Society.

Radclyffe Hall was listed at number sixteen in the top 500 lesbian and gay heroes in The Pink Paper.

PoemHunter.com Updates

To

The world that thro' its vale of tears
Looks out upon Eternity
Has yet one smile for us, and we
Still youthful in the count of years,
May add our smiles, and kiss the lips
Of life, for whosoever sips
The wine within that ruddy bowl
Has quaffed defiance to the spheres.
Beloved, see, I drink thereto !

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