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Today in Gay History – November 10 ...
1928 – The New York Times reported that forty distinguished witnesses including T. S. Eliot, Arnold Bennett, Vera Brittain, Ethel Smyth. and Virginia Woolf, appeared in a London in support of Radclyffe Hall to testify in favor of the lesbian novel “The Well of Loneliness.” which was in the midst of an obscenity trail. The judge refused to hear any of them.
He would later go on to apply the Hicklin test of obscenity: a work was obscene if it tended to “deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences”. He held that the book’s literary merit was irrelevant because a well-written obscene book was even more harmful than a poorly written one. The topic in itself was not necessarily unacceptable; a book that depicted the “moral and physical degradation which indulgence in those vices must necessary involve” might be allowed, but no reasonable person could say that a plea for the recognition and toleration of inverts was not obscene. He ordered the book destroyed, with the defendants to pay court costs