Radclyffe Hall

The Unlit Lamp

The Unlit Lamp (1924) is a novel by Radclyffe Hall. After publishing several collections of poems, Hall turned to fiction in 1924 with two successful novels. The Unlit Lamp is the story of a young woman with an unhappy home life who falls in love with an older teacher and dreams of moving to London to become a doctor. Despite her independent spirit, Joan struggles to escape the clutches of her controlling mother. “Mrs. Ogden put her hand up to her head wearily, glancing at Joan as she did so. Joan was so quick to respond to the appeal of illness. Mrs. Ogden would not have admitted to herself how much she longed for this quick response and sympathy. […] There were times, growing more frequent of late, when she longed, yes, longed to break down utterly, to become bedridden, to be waited upon hand and foot, to have arresting symptoms of her own, any number of them.” Unhappily married to the Colonel, a cold and distant man, Mrs. Ogden depends on her daughters for emotional support. As Joan and Milly draw closer the age of independence, however, their mother begins thinking up ways to keep them at home, stifling their personal interests and desires. When Elizabeth Rodney, a governess, arrives to teach the sisters, Joan develops not only an attraction to the older woman, but a desire to move with her to London, where she dreams of becoming a doctor. Tragic and psychologically piercing, The Unlit Lamp is a story of friendship, family, and desire that continues to be recognized as a groundbreaking work of lesbian literature. With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Radclyffe Hall’s The Unlit Lamp is a classic work of British literature reimagined for modern readers.
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