Vita Sackville-West entry: Overview screen.
Writing and Life
Works By
Vita Sackville-West wrote prolifically and almost obsessively from her childhood in the early twentieth century. She began with poems, plays, and fiction about her family's romantic links to English history. As an adult she used these genres to describe or transform her own complicated love-life: lesbian relationships, triangular relationships, love between masculine women and feminine men. Her best-known poems, The Land and The Garden, create classically-descended georgic from the traditional labour of the Kentish countryside, and the related art of gardening. Many novels (some she called pot-boilers) use conventional style to delineate upper-class society, but she also made forays (first inspired by Virginia Woolf) into the experimental. She wrote history, biography, travel books, diaries, and letters. She was a popular and productive journalist, both in print and on the radio, whose topics included literature, gardening, and the status of women (though she refused the label of feminist). Her gardening writings and her actual gardens remain her best-known works. Her masterpiece, the Sissinghurst gardens, are the most-visited in Britain.
9 March 1892 VSW was born at Knole House, near Sevenoaks in Kent, her family's historic seat. Bibliographic Citation link.
1907 VSW began a diary, in code, with the words, "I am to restore the fortunes of the family" Bibliographic Citation link. —she had received a pound, her very first earnings, for a poem for the Onlooker. Bibliographic Citation link.
4 September 1921 The first idea for a poem about farming and country labour (The Land) came to VSW when J. C. Squire casually remarked on the dearth of poetry about working life. Bibliographic Citation link.
30 September 1926 VSW published her georgic poem The Land, in a limited edition with woodcuts by George Plank. Bibliographic Citation link.
16 June 1927 VSW was presented with the Hawthornden Prize (a "most establishment" Bibliographic Citation link. award) for The Land. Bibliographic Citation link.
18 September 1932 VSW gave a reading of The Land at the Barn Theatre at Smallhythe, run by Edith Craig and Christopher St John. Bibliographic Citation link.
February 1961 VSW published her final novel, No Signposts in the Sea, dedicated to Edie Lamont. Bibliographic Citation link.
2 June 1962 VSW died at Sissinghurst, Kent, from stomach cancer. Bibliographic Citation link.
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