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The Trials Of Radclyffe Hall [Hardcover]

Diana Souhami
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

13 July 1998
This is a biography of Radclyffe Hall, one of England nost eccentric contemporaywomen. She is also the quintissential gay and lesbian icon. The book spans her whole life from her unhappy childhood to the contravercy of her most famous book" Well of Loneliness". Brilliantly written, witty and satirical, this major new biography brings a fresh and irreverent eye to the life of this fascinating eccentric.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 418 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; 1st. Edition edition (13 July 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297818252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297818250
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 15 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 624,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Diana Souhami's biography is fascinating and thorough. In style, substance, insight and wit it is by far the best thing anyone has written on the fateful life of Radclyffe Hall (Jeanette Winterson, THE TIMES)

So candid, so vivid, so tragicomic...outrageously entertaining (Victoria Glendinning, DAILY TELEGRAPH)

a fascinating account of a woman whose...novel became a landmark in the history of freedom of expression. (OBSERVER)

Diana Souhami has given us a gripping biography and a marvellous piece of social history. (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

* The extraordinary life of one of the great English eccentrics put on trial under the Obscene Publications Act for her novel about lesbian love, The Well of Loneliness. By one of Britain's best known and bestselling biographers --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High camp -- high comedy --black farce 3 Aug 2008
This must be the most fascinating, the most haunting and most entertaining biography I have ever read. Souhami is the perfect chronicler of the oddities and absurdities of these impossible characters; every page is a delight. I can't remember a book that has amused me more.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
In this brilliant biography Diana Souhami re-creates the life and world of Radclyffe Hall. Writing about her subject with compassion, humour and wit, Diana Souhami treats Radclyffe Hall sympathetically, yet does not seek to lionise her; instead she delights in detailing the remarkable absurdities of her subject's life. Souhami's style is elegant and engaging: The Trials of Radclyffe Hall has me want to read all her other biographies.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit mixed 23 Nov 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I suppose I should be grateful to Diana Souhami, given that while writing this biography she forced the opening of important Government files on Radclyffe Hall that I have since been using myself: but I have misgivings about this book. It is, as far as I can judge, accurate in its core subject matter. However, the citations are so sloppily done and so very far from standard academic practice that it isn't always easy to tell what her sources are except for direct quotations. She also overlooks certain minor points, probably because of time restrictions on her research (for example, she claims that the Home Secretary persuaded Rudyard Kipling to offer evidence against "The Well of Loneliness": in reality, it seems to have been the other way around, but that is only made clear by papers in a very obscure private archive). The massive amount of effort that has obviously gone in on Radclyffe Hall herself is the redeeming feature: the bibliography is a most imposing list, and one that an impoverished PhD student like myself can only drool over enviously, comprising archives in places as diverse as Toronto, Texas and London. But it would have been better if they had been more tightly applied and more clearly marked in the text. It is also, on a purely aesthetic level, rather heavy going. This is hardly Souhami's fault; the bewildering variety of names, nicknames and changing nicknames would confuse the cleverest analyst; but the rather abrupt style, with its extensive use of simple sentences and occasional lack of clarification, doesn't help. Nevertheless, this is a worthwhile biography of one of the twentieth century's bravest (albeit hardly one of its best) writers, and would be of great value to anyone interested in the literature, culture or history of the 1920s. But be careful if using it as a starting point for scholarly work.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Frank Account of An Arrogant Bully 26 Dec 2011
By William
Radclyffe Hall was "one of England's great eccentrics", best known as being openly a pipe smoking lesbian. She is also remembered as the author of a novel " The Well of Loneliness", which rates being called " inherently obscene" by one Home Secretary. Born in the late Victorian era, sexually subversive, a Catholic convert, she was born in the wrong era and in the wrong gender. She died during the Second World War. This is a lavish, delightfully readable, hugely well researched biography, from Diana Souhami, the author of the equally impressive "Mrs Keppel and Her Daughter". Using the name of " John", the author revels and teases in describing the manly ways of the subject but throughout Radclyffe Hall is sensitively, even comically portrayed. In the closing stages of her life, suffering from advanced cancer, Radclyffe Hall entered Lady Almina Carnarvon's Nursing Home of The Glebe at Barnet in Hertfordshire, indeed she was the last patient there before the place closed down in 1943. The description of that scene is moving and sad. In a way sad is also a description of John's life, and the description of it by the author as " Trials" is very apt. This is a frank, and sometimes shocking account of an arrogant and often unsavaory bully, but well worth reading. The images from the many photographs included conjure up the lost era of John's life and her close friends, battleing for their own survival between the two World Wars of the 20th century, and victims, the faces of several of these posers linger in the memory too of the divine decadance of the fictional Sally Bowles and more than a touch of real life absurdity.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Trials of Radclyffe Hall 26 Jan 2012
I haven't read this book yet, but glancing through it I must say it looks interesting.
I needed the book for a college course I will be taking in March.
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