Vita Sackville-West

Standard Name: Sackville-West, Vita
Birth Name: Victoria Mary Sackville-West
Nickname: Mar
Self-constructed Name: Vita Sackville-West
Self-constructed Name: V. Sackville-West
Married Name: Victoria Mary Nicolson
Self-constructed Name: Julian Sackville-West
Self-constructed Name: David Sackville-West
Styled: the Honourable Victoria Mary Sackville-West
VSW 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.


Connections Sort descending Author name Excerpt
Cultural formation Violet Trefusis
VT had minor erotic relationships with men, but her intimate experiences were dominated by lesbian affairs with author Vita Sackville-West and other women. Though she did not formally indentify with any specific category or definition...
Cultural formation Violet Trefusis
Alice Keppel strongly disapproved of the relationship between Violet and Vita for many reasons, including the threat posed by the growing scandal over it to Sonia Keppel 's upcoming marriage into a staunchly conservative English family.
Souhami, Diana. Mrs. Keppel and Her Daughter. Flamingo.
death Enid Bagnold
She was cremated and her ashes interred at Rottingdean. At a memorial service held in November, John Gielgud read the lesson and Vita Sackville-West 's son Nigel Nicolson gave the address. EB 's papers...
death Gertrude Bell
While the public record states that her death was accidental, there was speculation that she had intended the overdose. Lionel Smith told Vita Sackville-West that she committed suicide. Her recent biographer, Georgina Howell , believes...
death Christopher St John
Vita Sackville-West —although St John's death brought her the horrifying discovery of the love-journal recording their relationship—wrote to The Times celebrating her as a roaringly rumbustious character in the grand tradition of English eccentrics.
“The Times Digital Archive 1785-2007”. Thompson Gale: The Times Digital Archive.
(29 October 1960): 8
Dedications Dorothy Wellesley
This was her second volume in the Hogarth Living Poets series: number 16, and she inscribed it to Vita Sackville-West .
Wellesley, Dorothy, and W. B. Yeats. Selections from the Poems of Dorothy Wellesley. Macmillan.
Dedications May Crommelin
She dedicated it to Lady Nicolson , Who told me the greater part of Kinsah's story, and without whose kind help it would not have been written.
Lady Nicolson was later Lady Carnock, and mother-in-law...
Education Iris Tree
Sometime after 1904, IT and her next elder sister, Felicity, began attending Miss Wolff 's day school, an unconventional school held at the private home of Miss Wolff at South Audley Street, London. There...
Education Violet Trefusis
VT (then Keppel) began attending Helen Wolff 's School for Girls in South Audley Street, London, with her sister Sonia Keppel and her friend Vita Sackville-West .
Souhami, Diana. Mrs. Keppel and Her Daughter. Flamingo.
Education Kathleen Raine
KR was very impressed by the occasion on which Virginia Woolf , accompanied by Vita Sackville-West , gave her paper A Room of One's Own to the Girton Literary Society before its publication. She was...
Education Dorothy Wellesley
DW was educated at home. Vita Sackville-West thought this unfortunate, as she could have benefited from the discipline of school and the intellectual stimulus of a university.
Blain, Virginia et al., editors. The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present. Yale University Press; Batsford.
Dorothy, however, later recalled how her Luxembourgeois...
Education Nancy Cunard
After NC 's mother left her husband and moved to London, Nancy became a regular pupil at Miss Wolff 's School in South Audley Street, where she had previously attended some classes.
The surname...
Family and Intimate relationships Dorothy Wellesley
DW seems to have first met Hilda Matheson just before the latter took over the role of central player in Vita Sackville-West 's love-life. But Matheson (director of talks for the BBC , soon to...
Family and Intimate relationships Lady Anne Clifford
LAC 's sons (three from her first, two from her second marriage) did not survive. (The longest-lived, born on 2 February 1620; survived less than six months.) Her two daughters married earls. She lived to...
Family and Intimate relationships Virginia Woolf
VW stayed with Vita Sackville-West at Long Barn for the weekend: this was the beginning of their affair.
Bishop, Edward. A Virginia Woolf Chronology. Macmillan.
Woolf, Virginia. The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Editors Bell, Anne Olivier and Andrew McNeillie, Hogarth Press.
3: 51n10


: The young Vita Sackville-West, travelling...

National or international item


The young Vita Sackville-West , travelling in Russia (now Ukraine), saw the serfs grovelling up to their master and being slashed at carelessly with a dog-whip for their pains.

9 February 1918: Lady Sackville (mother of Vita Sackville-West)...

National or international item

9 February 1918

Lady Sackville (mother of Vita Sackville-West ) noted in her diary that there had been no meat for more than two weeks in the shops at Sevenoaks in Kent.

By October 1926: The BBC named Hilda Matheson as its first...

Building item

By October 1926

The BBC named Hilda Matheson as its first Director of Talks, one of the most highly paid jobs for a woman in any organisation at that time,
Carney, Michael. Stoker. Published by the author.
as her biographer puts it.

16 January 1929: The Listener began publication; it has been...

Writing climate item

16 January 1929

The Listener began publication; it has been said that it did more for the new 'thirties poetry in Britain than any of the specialized poetry magazines.

27 October 1931: In the general election, the National Coalition...

National or international item

27 October 1931

In the general election, the National Coalition Government won a landslide victory (a majority of nearly five hundred seats over the combined opposition) but became much more Conservative in tone than it had been. Most...

1934: Constance Spry published her first book,...

Building item


Constance Spry published her first book, How To Do the Flowers, preaching the gospel of informal flower arrangement, with the use of trailing foliage and unexpected elements.

Earlier 1937: Ruth Pitter was awarded the Hawthornden Prize...

Women writers item

Earlier 1937

Ruth Pitter was awarded the Hawthornden Prize for her poetry; the presentation was made by Vita Sackville-West .

1 April 1940: The Land Girl, a magazine aimed at members...

National or international item

1 April 1940

The Land Girl, a magazine aimed at members of the Women's Land Army , began publication.

4 June 1940: Winston Churchill made one of his most famous...

National or international item

4 June 1940

Winston Churchill made one of his most famous war speeches in the House of Commons .

1 December 1942: Sir William Beveridge, long-time head of...

National or international item

1 December 1942

Sir William Beveridge , long-time head of the London School of Economics, released through His Majesty'ss Stationery Office the Beveridge Report (titled Social Insurance and Allied Services), which has been called the foundation...

1955: Copies of Molloy by Samuel Beckett and Lolita...

Writing climate item


Copies of Molloy by Samuel Beckett and Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (both published in France) were seized by British Customs.

13 July 2006: A rare book sale at Sotheby's brought under...

Writing climate item

13 July 2006

A rare book sale at Sotheby's brought under the hammer both a First Folio of the works of Shakespeare and a copy of the first edition of Woolf 's Orlando inscribed to Vita Sackville-West .


Sackville-West, Vita. A Note of Explanation. Royal Collection Trust, 2017.
Meynell, Alice. Alice Meynell: Prose and Poetry. Editors Page, Frederick and Vita Sackville-West, Jonathon Cape, 1947.
Sackville-West, Vita. All Passion Spent. Hogarth Press, 1931.
Sackville-West, Vita. Andrew Marvell. Faber and Faber, 1929.
Sackville-West, Vita, and Harold Nicolson. Another World Than This. Michael Joseph, 1945.
Sackville-West, Vita. Aphra Behn: The Incomparable Astrea. Gerald Howe, 1927.
Sackville-West, Vita. Challenge. George H. Doran, 1923.
Sackville-West, Vita. Collected Poems. Hogarth Press, 1933.
Sackville-West, Vita. Constantinople: Eight Poems. Privately printed, Complete Press, 1915.
Sackville-West, Vita. Country Notes in Wartime. Hogarth Press, 1940.
Sackville-West, Vita. Daughter of France. Michael Joseph, 1959.
Sackville-West, Vita. Dearest Andrew. Editor MacKnight, Nancy, Michael Joseph, 1979.
Sackville-West, Vita. Devil at Westease. Doubleday, 1947.
Rilke, Rainer Maria. Duineser Elegien: Elegies from the Castle of Duino. Translators Sackville-West, Vita and Edward Sackville-West, Hogarth Press, 1931.
Sackville-West, Vita. English Country Houses. Collins, 1941.
Sackville-West, Vita, and Laelia Goehr. Faces. Harvill Press, 1961.
Sackville-West, Vita. Family History. Hogarth Press, 1932.
Nicolson, Nigel, and Vita Sackville-West. “Foreword”. Challenge, Collins, 1974, pp. 7-11.
Sackville-West, Vita. Grand Canyon. Michael Joseph, 1942.
Sackville-West, Vita. Grey Wethers. Heinemann, 1923.
Sackville-West, Vita. Heritage. W. Collins Sons, 1919.
Sackville-West, Vita. In Your Garden. Michael Joseph, 1951.
Sackville-West, Vita. In Your Garden Again. Michael Joseph, 1953.
Meynell, Alice. “Introduction”. Alice Meynell: Prose and Poetry, edited by Vita Sackville-West et al., Jonathon Cape, 1947, pp. 7-26.
Sackville-West, Vita, and Ling Shuhua. “Introduction”. Ancient Melodies, Hogarth Press, 1953, pp. 7-10.