29 October 2013

Highgate Cemetery (West) #1: Radclyffe Hall

Unfortunately, admission to West Cemetery is by guided tour only, which means that you're at the mercy of the guide, and that (at least on the occasion when I went this August) could well mean that you'll be subjected to the predictable: the 'menagerist' George Wombwell, the boxer Tom Sayers, etc. If the guide isn't interested in literature, as ours obviously wasn't – then there'll not even be a mention of Christina Rossetti, let alone Radclyffe Hall or Ellen Wood. Which isn't good enough for me, so it was fortunate that I'd done some online research before, and had worked out that we'd be passing by the last two authors at least. In the end, I was surprised to find the number of graves I did find – but in spite of, rather than because of – the guide. 

The Egyptian Avenue, leading on to the Circle of Lebanon.
Radclyffe Hall (1880–1943) is probably most well known for her 'lesbian' novel The Well of Loneliness (1928), which was the subject of a court case. She lived with the singer Mabel Veronica Batten from her husband's death until Batten's own death in 1916.

Batten's cousin Una Troubridge (1887–1963) was a sculptor and translator (notably of Colette) who lived with Hall from 1917.


O.F.E. said...

The guides do hustle you along don't they? I was lucky - we were taken as a special treat along to the Rossetti grave to see where Lizzie Siddal had joined the Rossetti clan. I think the guide especially enjoyed telling the story of Lizzie being exhumed so that Dante Gabriel could get his poems back. We also got to see inside the Beer Mausoleum but what you get to see apparently depends very much on what the guides want to show you.

Dr Tony Shaw said...

Yes, you were indeed lucky. Missing the Rossetti grave was the main disappointment for me.