The Girls of Radcliff Hall

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First privately printed edition

The Girls of Radcliff Hall is a roman à clef novel in the form of a lesbian girls' school story written in the 1930s by the British composer and bon-vivant Gerald Berners, the 14th Lord Berners, under the pseudonym "Adela Quebec", published and distributed privately in 1932.[1] Berners depicts himself and his circle of friends, including Cecil Beaton and Oliver Messel, as lesbian schoolgirls at a school named "Radcliff Hall" (punning on the name of the famous lesbian writer).[2][3][4] The indiscretions alluded to in the novel, including mutual fingering, cunnilingus, and "upskirting", created an uproar among Berners's intimates and acquaintances, making the whole affair highly discussed in the 1930s. Cecil Beaton attempted to have all the copies destroyed.[5] The novel subsequently disappeared from circulation, making it extremely rare. The story is not included in the Berners anthology Collected Tales and Fantasies, but it was reprinted in 2000.


  • "Adela Quebec", The Girls of Radcliff Hall, privately printed, 1932
  • Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt-Wilson Berners, Lord Berners (ed. John Byrne), The Girls of Radcliff Hall, 2000, ISBN 0-907435-13-0, ISBN 1-893450-06-6[6]


  1. ^ Judith Still, Michael Worton, Textuality and Sexuality: reading theories and practices, Manchester University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-7190-3605-4, p. 190
  2. ^ Mark Amory, Lord Berners: The Last Eccentric, London, 1998 ISBN 978-0-7126-6578-0
  3. ^ Bryony Jones, The Music of Lord Berners (1883–1950): The Versatile Peer, Ashgate Publishing, 2003, ISBN 0-7546-0852-2, pp. 9, 101, 143
  4. ^ Beverly Lyon Clark, Regendering the School Story: sassy sissies and tattling tomboys, Routledge, 2001, ISBN 0-415-92891-5, p. 143
  5. ^ Florence Tamagne, History of Homosexuality in Europe, 1919–1939, Algora Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-87586-356-6, p. 124
  6. ^ Zinovieff, Sofka (2014). The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me. London: Jonathan Cape. pp. 112–115. ISBN 0224096591.