Ric Todd, the British Ambassador to Poland, visited the Polish National Library this week to mark the end of LGBT History Month and view their copy of Radclyffe Hall’s groundbreaking 1928 lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness.
In a meeting with the Polish deputy director for development, Ms. Katarzyna Ślaska, Mr Todd discussed how Poland had decriminalised homosexual relations as early as 1918, while it took another almost half-century in England and Wales, with the Sexual Offences Act of 1967.
As reported by the British Embassy in Warsaw’s website, the copy of Hall’s novel in Poland’s National Library was brought to the Mr Todd’s attention by Clare Dimyon from PRIDE Solidarity,
The Polish translation, with a preface by Irena Krzywicka, was first published in 1933 by the Rój Publishing House. In a recent Lesbian Lives conference organised by the University of Brighton, the story of a Polish Holocaust survivor and her connection to the book came to light: “I had a chance to read The Well of Loneliness that had been translated into Polish before I was taken into the camps. I was a young girl at the time, around 12 or 13, and one of the ways I survived in the camp was by remembering that book. I wanted to live long enough to kiss a woman.”
Ms Dimyon said: “These 2 or 3 sentences and this book are the only fragment we have of this woman and this astonishing story of survival.”