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.