"When Radclyffe Hall’s infamous novel The Well of Loneliness was published in London in 1928, it was greeted with a wave of hostile criticism: 'Acts of the most horrible, unnatural and disgusting obscenity,' wrote one critic. James Douglas, editor of the Sunday Express, stated, 'I would rather give a healthy boy or a healthy girl a phial of prussic acid than this novel.'
"All this for a novel that did not contain any sex act other than kissing. That is, between women.
"Credited with helping to define lesbianism in the twentieth century, The Well of Loneliness was the first English novel written by a lesbian to focus openly on homosexuality. While critics and readers alike disagree on whether the novel was beneficial or harmful to lesbians at the time, it is undeniable that The Well has had a major impact on countless lesbians' lives since its publication.
. . . . "The book was charged with obscenity, despite the fact that, as Jeanette Winterson wrote in 1997 in The Times, 'There are no descriptions of sex in it, no rude words, and the lesbian lovers do not live happily ever after.'
"This obscenity trial remains one of the most infamous in history, and author Radclyffe Hall was as much on trial as her novel. Hall claimed that The Well upheld a conventional heterosexual morality, as the character of Mary, who was not a true invert like Stephen Gordon, had to follow her heterosexual nature by ultimately marrying a man."