By Nava Atlas | On | Comments (0)
Vita Sackville-West (March 9, 1892 – June 2, 1962), British poet and novelist, wrote of her life in the Kent countryside. Born at Knole Park, a 365-room ancestral home, her writing career was launched with the publication of Poems of East and West.
She’s known for her private life as well; she was bisexual and had many affairs with women, including Virginia Woolf. It’s believed that she was the inspiration for the title character of Woolf’s novel, Orlando.
Vita was part of the literary Bloomsbury circle, which included Woolf and her husband, Leonard, as well as E.M. Forster, Lytton Strachey, John Maynard Keynes, and others.
You might also like: Quotes by Vita Sackville-West
She enjoyed an open marriage with Harold George Nicolson, a writer, politician, and diplomat who was also bisexual. In creating an unusual family, including two successful sons, Nigel and Benedict, the couple was far ahead of time. Nigel combined his mother’s diaries with his own observations in Portrait of a Marriage.
Vita focused mainly on fiction, but also used her considerable passion for gardening to produce essays and columns on the subject. The gardens she and her husband designed at their home, Sissinghurst Castle, are still visited and admired today. The Edwardians and All Passion Spent are arguably her best known works.
An avid diarist
Vita carefully preserved her memories and experiences in her letters, diaries and memoirs:
“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. Growth is exciting; growth is dynamic and alarming.
Growth of the soul, growth of the mind; how the observation of last year seems childish, superficial; how this year — even this week — even with this new phrase — it seems to us that we have grown to a new maturity. It may be a fallacious persuasion, but at least it is stimulating, and so long as it persists, one does not stagnate. I look back as through a telescope, and see, in the little bright circle of the glass, moving flocks and ruined cities.” (from Twelve Days in Persia, 1928)
More about Vita on this site
- The Edwardians
- All Passion Spent
- Saint Joan of Arc
- Twelve Days in Persia
- In Your Garden
- Passenger to Teheran
- No Signposts in the Sea
- Violet to Vita: The Letters of Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West, 1910-1921
- The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf
Biographies about Vita Sackville-West
- Portrait of a Marriage: Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson by Nigel Nicolson
- Vita: The Life of V. Sackville by Victoria Glendinning
Visit Vita Sackville-West’s home
- Sissinghurst Castle – Weald of Kent, UK
*This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through, The Literary Ladies Guide receives a modest commission, which helps maintain our site and helps it to continue growing!