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.
Three-quarter-length painting of Vita Sackville-West by William Strang, 1918. She is shown from the side but turning her face to the viewer, seated, against a plain wall. She is wearing a yellow skirt, a flowing green jacket, and most strikingly a broad-brimmed red hat over short dark hair. One hand holds a book. Kelvingrove Art Gallery.
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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, 1997.
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
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...
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, 1936.
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 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, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy, editors. The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present. Yale University Press; Batsford, 1990.
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...
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, 1997.
Family and Intimate relationships Violet Trefusis
This engagement, like most in VT 's life, was short-lived: she ended it before the close of the year. (For his part, Gerald Wellesley proposed to Dorothy Ashton in 1914. Their marriage lasted until 1922...
Family and Intimate relationships Dorothy Wellesley
DW 's husband was a secretary in the Diplomatic Service; he told her that some day he would like to be an architect.
Wellesley, Dorothy. Far Have I Travelled. James Barrie, 1952.
Woolf, Virginia. The Letters of Virginia Woolf. Nicolson, Nigel and Joanne TrautmannEditors , Hogarth Press, 1980.
4: 49
Vita Sackville-West remarked that the couple do squabble...
Family and Intimate relationships Christopher St John
CSJ , smitten by Vita Sackville-West , spent one passionate night—never repeated—with the object of her desire.
Glendinning, Victoria. Vita. Penguin, 1984.


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 ) 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 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, 1999.
as her biographer puts it.
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 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...
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 for her poetry; the presentation was made by Vita Sackville-West .
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 war speeches in the House of Commons .
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...
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 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 .