Previously unpublished short stories and a novel by British author Radclyffe Hall have been discovered and transcribed by Dr Jana Funke. These materials, which give new insights into the lesbian writer’s views on sexuality, gender, class, race, spirituality and the First World War, have now been published in a new book edited and introduced by Funke.
Radclyffe Hall is widely remembered as the author of the 1928 lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness, which was famously censored in Britain and has fundamentally shaped views of lesbian sexuality and identity. After Radclyffe Hall’s death in 1943, her unpublished works were left to her partner, Lady Una Troubridge, who was meant to destroy them. Instead, they were kept and discovered in a suitcase in Rome in the 1990s, when they were bought by the Harry Ransom Center in Texas.
These materials have not been analysed or published until now. As Funke discusses in her introduction, these texts offer entirely new perspectives on Radclyffe Hall’s work. They show that she tested out radically different ways of writing about lesbian sexuality and gender before publishing The Well of Loneliness. Although she was critical of the suffragettes, the materials also reveal that Radclyffe Hall thought carefully about feminist politics. The newly-discovered novel gives insights into her interest in the First World War and its influence on gender roles and sexual relations, especially for men. The short stories also demonstrate Radclyffe Hall’s interest in spirituality and religion, including topics like reincarnation and the survival of the soul after death.
“The World” and other unpublished works of Radclyffe Hall is published by Manchester University Press.
Public Engagement with this project:
- Jana appeared in conversation with Mariella Frostrup on BBC 4 Open Book (audio recording available)
- Jana gave a presentation on the project as the Third Annual John Addington Symonds Celebration event of the University of Bristol’s Institute of Greece, Rome, and the Classical Tradition in collaboration with OutStories Bristol (audio recording available)
- Jana gave a presentation on the project as part of the National Festival of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans History, London Hub at the V&A.
- Playwright Natalie McGrath has drawn upon Jana’s work in producing original drama performances