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The Relationship of Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge

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The Relationship of Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge

Queers Through the Years is the section curated by Molly Saxby.

If I could have anybody, dead or alive, at a dinner party I would not hesitate to choose Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge. Since learning of these two women, I have been inspired by their lives and their love and commitment to one another. I hope you love their story as much as I do

Radclyffe and Una lived in Britain from the 1880s to 1960s. Radclyffe was a prominent writer and social figure during the 20s, whilst Troubridge was an educated woman who worked as a sculptor and translator. The two ladies met in 1915 after Unas cousin, Batten, who was also Radclyffes lover, passed away. After, the two women moved in together.

The couple were very much so in love and lived a full life together in their home in which they raised dogs and pursued their individual careers. Radclyffe and Una engaged in much spiritual activity, particularly due to their guilt around Battens death and their subsequent relationship with one another. Due to their status and wealth, Radclyffe and Una were somewhat free from persecution or judgement surrounding their relationship with one another unlike women who had to rely on a male counterpart for money and survival. They were also able to dress in more masculine styles particularly due to the masculinisation of womens fashion in the 20s; for the most part Una and Radclyffe mimicked male-female gendered roles in their dress with Una appearing more feminine.

It has made me want to live': public support for lesbian novelist Radclyffe  Hall over banned book revealed | Books | The Guardian

1- Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge

However, in 1928 Radclyffe faced public scrutiny and the court for the contents of her book The Well of Loneliness. The book featured themes of lesbianism or inversion in its tales of Stephen Gordon, a girl who struggled with her sexuality and relationships with women. Radclyffe had been determined to establish the lesbian as fact and truth in her writing and presented a case of sympathy for readers in her telling of Stephen Gordons life and misfortunes. She wrote, Acknowledge us, oh God, before the whole world. Give us also the right to our existence. Ultimately, the book was banned in England for fear that it would poison the minds of children. Nonetheless, Hall continued to operate in high society and was not intrinsically linked to Stephen Gordon.

It has made me want to live': public support for lesbian novelist Radclyffe  Hall over banned book revealed | Books | The Guardian

1- Radclyffe, Una and their dogs

Ultimately, Hall died in 1943 of bowel cancer. It has always stuck with me that after Radclyffes death, Una would wear her late lovers clothes and had them altered so that she could continue to do so. Whilst being utterly romantic, it was clear that after Halls passing, Una adopted a more masculine dress to maintain recognition of her sexuality; this is because at this time her feminine dress did not indicate her lesbianism without the presence of Radclyffe. In 1945, Una wrote a biography dedicated to Radclyffe called The Life and Death of Radclyffe Hall.

Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge represent the expression of sexuality through dress and appearance prior to a distinct lesbian subculture. More than this, it is undeniable that Radclyffe and Una committed themselves to a life which was true to who they were. Radclyffe and Una represent a dedication to love which continued into death despite public expectations and rules.

 

Image References

1- https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jan/10/it-has-made-me-want-to-live-public-support-for-lesbian-novelist-radclyffe-hall-over-banned-book-revealed

2- Same as above

Written by: Molly Saxby

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