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Vita Sackville-West

Female 1892 - 1962  (70 years)    Has more than 100 ancestors and 2 descendants in this family tree.

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  • Name Vita Sackville-West 
    Birth 9 Mar 1892  Knole House, Sevenoaks, Kent, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Death 2 Jun 1962 
    Person ID I499381  Geneagraphie
    Last Modified 13 Feb 2013 

    Father Baron Lionel Edward Sackville-West,   b. 15 May 1867   d. 28 Jan 1928 (Age 60 years) 
    Mother Victoria Josefa Sackville-West,   b. 23 Sep 1862, Paris, Île-de-France, France Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 30 Jan 1936, Roedean Find all individuals with events at this location (Age 73 years) 
    Family ID F203270  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Violet Keppel,   b. 6 Jun 1894, Wilton Crescent, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 1 Mar 1972 (Age 77 years) 
    Marriage Type: Lesbiab relation 
    Family ID F98844  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 13 Feb 2013 

    Family 2 Adeline Virginia Stephen,   b. 25 Jan 1882   d. 28 Mar 1941 (Age 59 years) 
    Marriage 1922 
    Family ID F203246  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 13 Feb 2013 

    Family 3 Harold Nicolson,   b. 21 Nov 1886   d. May 1, 1968) 
    Marriage 1913 
     1. Nigel Nicolson,   b. 19 Jan 1917   d. 23 Sep 2004 (Age 87 years)
     2. Ben Nicolson   d. Yes, date unknown
    Family ID F203249  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 18 Dec 2006 

    Family 4 Adeline Virginia Stephen,   b. 25 Jan 1882   d. 28 Mar 1941 (Age 59 years) 
    Marriage 1922 
    Family ID F366106  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 13 Feb 2013 

    Family 5 Violet Keppel,   b. 6 Jun 1894, Wilton Crescent, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 1 Mar 1972 (Age 77 years) 
    Marriage Type: Lesbian relation 
    Family ID F366107  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 13 Feb 2013 

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  • Notes 
    • poet, novelist and gardener. Her long narrative poem, The Land, won the Hawthornden Prize in 1927 . She won it again, the only writer to do so, in 1933 with her Collected Poems. She helped create her own gardens in Sissinghurst , Kent which provide the backdrop to Sissinghurst Castle . She was famous for her exuberant aristocratic life, her strong marriage, and her passionate affairs with women.
      born at Knole House in Kent , and her first love affair was with this ancient and huge house; because she was a woman, she could not inherit it, and this affected the rest of her life. She was the daughter of the 3rd Baron Sackville and his wife Victoria Sackville-West . She was christened "Victoria Mary Sackville-West" but was known as "Vita" throughout her life.
      Personal life, marriage and bisexuality
      Vita Sackville-West, although she did marry and have children, was predominantly lesbian throughout her life. In 1913 , Sackville-West married Harold Nicolson , at different times a diplomat, journalist, broadcaster, Member of Parliament , author of biographies and novels, and, crucially, a fellow bisexual in favour of what would now be called an open marriage . Both she and her husband had several consecutive same-sex relations outside their marriage, as was common among the Bloomsbury Group of writers and artists with which they had some association.
      Affair with Violet Trefusis
      The affair that had the deepest and most lasting effect on Vita's personal life was that with novelist Violet Trefusis , daughter to courtesan Alice Keppel .They met when Vita was 12, and Trefusis 10, and attended school together for a number of years. They fell in love, and a relationship started while both were in their teens. Both married, but by the time both of Vita's sons were out of diapers, Vita and Violet had eloped several times from 1918 on, mostly to France , where Vita would dress as a young man when they went out. The affair eventually ended badly, with Trefusis pursuing Sackville-West to great lengths, until Sackville-West's affairs with other women finally took their toll, but Trefusis refused to give up.
      Also, the two women had made a bond to remain exclusive to one another, meaning that although both women were married, neither could engage in sexual relations with their husband. Sackville-West received word that allegedly Trefusis had been involved sexually with her (Trefusis') husband, indicating she had broken their bond, prompting her to end the affair. By all accounts[ citation needed ], Vita was by that time looking for a reason, and used that as justification. Despite the poor ending, the two women were devoted to one another, and deeply in love, and continued occasional liaisons for a number of years afterward, but never rekindled the affair.
      Sackville-West wrote an autobiographical account about this period, which was later edited and published by her son Nigel Nicolson as Portrait of a Marriage. Nigel had to perform some heavy explaining of his choice of title, given that it was, in fact, the portrait of an extra-marital affair. The piece aired in a three-part Masterpiece Theatre series July 19 through Aug. 2, 1992. [3]
      Vita's novel Challenge also bears witness of this affair: Vita and Violet had started writing this book as a collaborative endeavour, the male character's name, Julian, being Vita's nickname while passing as a man. Vita's mother, Lady Sackville, found the portrayal obvious enough to insist the novel not be published in England. Nigel (1973, p. 194), however, praises Vita: "She fought for the right to love, men and women, rejecting the conventions that marriage demands exclusive love, and that women should love only men, and men only women. For this she was prepared to give up everything… How could she regret that the knowledge of it should now reach the ears of a new generation, one so infinitely more compassionate than her own?"
      Affair with Virginia Woolf
      The affair for which Sackville-West is most remembered was with the prominent writer Virginia Woolf in the late 1920s . In consequence, Woolf wrote one of her most famous novels, Orlando , which Nigel Nicolson called "the longest and most charming love-letter in literature". Unusually, Orlando's moment of conception was "captured on film" so to speak. As excerpted from her diary posthumously by her husband Leonard Woolf, for an entry dated October 5th 1927, Virginia records: "And instantly the usual exciting devices enter my mind: a biography beginning in the year 1500 and continuing to the present day, called Orlando: Vita; only with a change about from one sex to the other."
      From all accounts of the time, Woolf and Sackville-West remained in love with each other for the remainder of their lives.
      In 1931 Sackville-West became involved in an affair with journalist Evelyn Irons, who worked for the Daily Mail as a fashion correspondent. [4]
      Effects of her affairs on her marriage
      These affairs, and others not listed here, were, however, no impediment to a true closeness between Sackville-West and her husband, which appears from their nearly daily correspondence (also published later by their son Nigel), and from an interview they gave for BBC radio after World War II . They were truly devoted to each other, and Nicolson gave up his diplomatic career partly so that he could live with Vita in England, uninterrupted by long solitary postings to missions abroad.
      Well known writings
      The Edwardians (1930) and All Passion Spent (1931) are perhaps her best known novels today. In the latter, the elderly Lady Slane courageously embraces a long suppressed sense of freedom and whimsy after a lifetime of convention. This novel was faithfully dramatized by the BBC in 1986 starring Dame Wendy Hiller .
      Sackville-West's science-fantasy Grand Canyon (1942) is a "cautionary tale" (as she termed it) about a Nazi invasion of an unprepared United States. The book takes an unsuspected twist, however, that makes it something more than a typical invasion yarn.
      In 1946 Sackville-West was made a Companion of Honour for her services to literature. The following year she began a weekly column in the Observer called In your Garden. In 1948 she became a founder member of the National Trust's garden committee.
      Sissinghurst Castle is now owned by the National Trust . Sissinghurst Castle Garden is the most visited garden in England.
      "Travel is the most private of pleasures. There is no greater bore than the travel bore. We do not in the least want to hear what he has seen in Hong-Kong." [5]
      There is a brown " blue plaque " commemorating her and Harold Nicolson on their house in Ebury Street, London SW1.
      Selected bibliography
      Poems of West and East ( 1917 )
      Orchard and Vineyard ( 1921 )
      The Land ( 1927 )
      The Garden( 1946 )
      Heritage ( 1919 )
      Challenge ( 1923 )
      The Edwardians ( 1930 )
      All Passion Spent ( 1931 )
      The Dark Island ( 1934 )
      Grand Canyon ( 1942 )
      Biographies/Other works
      Knole and the Sackvilles (1922)
      Pepita ( 1937 )
      Saint Joan of Arc (1936)
      Daughter of France ( 1959 )
      The Eagle and The Dove ( 1943 )

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