ONE OF ONLY 225 COPIES SIGNED BY RADCLYFFE HALL
HALL, Radclyffe. The Well of Loneliness. New York: Covici-Friede, 1929. Two volumes. Octavo, original silver-stamped cloth and paper boards, top edges gilt, uncut. $2000.
Signed limited edition, number 202 of 225 copies signed by Radclyffe Hall, printed on Van Gelder handmade paper. This is the "Victory Edition," published nine months after the first edition, to celebrate the successful defense of the work against obscenity charges in New York's appellate court.
The Well of Loneliness provided an open treatment of lesbianism "at a time when homosexuality could not be discussed in English books or in the English press. Unlike male inversion… the female kind was not officially acknowledged to exist in England. In 1920, the House of Lords declined to amend the criminal laws of England to include lesbians because the Lords did not admit such people lived" (de Grazia, 166-167). Following its 1928 publication in England, the book was ordered withdrawn from sale by the Secretary of the Home Office. Early in 1929 in New York, "Charles Sumner, Secretary of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, acting under a warrant… raided the office of the publisher and removed 865 copies remaining from the sixth edition, then raided Macy's book department" (Haight 94). This edition contains a summary of the court proceedings by defense attorney Morris Ernst, and a one-paragraph "Commentary" by Havelock Ellis, author of the suppressed 1897 Studies in the Psychology of Sex, who notes that "apart from its fine qualities as a novel by a writer of accomplished art… it is the first English novel which presents, in completely faithful and uncompromising form, one particular aspect of sexual life as it exists among us today." Among the many who protested the suppression of the novel were F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, George Bernard Shaw, E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Rudyard Kipling, and Mrs. Ralph Pulitzer. The book remained contraband in England until 1959. Without scarce original slipcase.
Spines mildly rubbed and toned. A near-fine signed copy.