Vita Sackville-West, Lady Nicolson
Vita Sackville-West in 1924
|Born||Victoria Mary Sackville-West
9 March 1892
Knole House, Kent, England
|Died||2 June 1962
Sissinghurst Castle, Kent, England
|Occupation||Novelist, poet, gardener|
(m. 1913; her death 1962)
|Relatives||Lionel Edward Sackville-West, 3rd Baron Sackville (father)
Victoria Sackville-West (mother)
She was a successful novelist, poet, and journalist, as well as a prolific letter writer and diarist. She published more than a dozen collections of poetry during her lifetime and 13 novels. She was twice awarded the Hawthornden Prize for Imaginative Literature: in 1927 for her pastoral epic, The Land, and in 1933 for her Collected Poems. She was the inspiration for the androgynous protagonist of Orlando: A Biography, by her famous friend and admirer, Virginia Woolf.
Knole, the home of Vita's aristocratic ancestors in Kent, was given to Thomas Sackville by Queen Elizabeth I in the sixteenth century.  Vita was born there, the only child of cousins Victoria Sackville-West and Lionel Edward Sackville-West, 3rd Baron Sackville. Vita's mother, raised in a Parisian convent, was the illegitimate daughter of Lionel Sackville-West, 2nd Baron Sackville and a Spanish dancer, Josefa de Oliva (née Durán y Ortega), known as Pepita. Pepita's mother was an acrobat who had married a barber. 
Christened Victoria Mary Sackville-West, the girl was known as "Vita" throughout her life to distinguish her from her mother.The usual English aristocratic inheritance customs were followed by the Sackville-West family, which prevented Vita from inheriting Knole on the death of her father, which became a source of life-long bitterness.[a] The house followed the title, and was bequeathed instead by her father to his nephew Charles, who became the 4th Baron.
Although the marriage was initially happy, shortly after the birth of Vita, the couple drifted and Lionel took an opera singer for a mistress and she came to live with them at Knole. 
Vita was initially home-schooled by governesses and later attended Helen Wolff's school for girls, an exclusive day school in Mayfair, where she would meet first loves Violet Keppel and Rosamund Grosvenor. She never befriended local children and found it hard to make friends at school. Her biographers characterise her childhood as one filled by loneliness and isolation. She wrote prolifically at Knole, penning eight full-length (unpublished) novels between 1906-1910, ballads and many plays, some in French. Her lack of formal education led to later shyness with her peers, such as those in the Bloomsbury Group. She felt herself to be sluggish of mind and she was never at the intellectual heart of her social group. 
Vita's apparently Roma lineage introduced a passion for 'gypsy' ways, a culture she perceived to be hot-blooded, heart-led, dark and romantic. It informed the stormy nature of many of Vita's later love affairs and was a strong theme in her later writing. She visited Roma camps and felt herself to be at one with them. 
Vita's mother had a wide array of famous lovers, including financier J P Morgan and Sir John Murray Scott (from 1897-1912, until his death). Scott was a devoted companion and Lady Sackville and he were rarely apart during their years together. During her childhood, Vita spent a great deal of time in Scott's apartments in Paris, perfecting her already fluent French.  Vita writes that her first sexual experience came at aged 11 at the hands of a local farmer's son.
Vita debuted in 1910, shortly after the death of King Edward VII. She was wooed by Orazio Pucci, son of a distinguished Florentine family, by Lord Granby and Lord Lascelles, among others. In 1914 she had a passionate affair with historian Geoffrey Scott. Scott's marriage collapsed shortly thereafter, as was often the fallout with Vita's affairs, all with women after this point.
Vita fell in love with Rosamund Grosvenor (1888 – 1944), who was four years her senior. Rosamund was the daughter of Algernon Henry Grosvenor (1864–1907), and the granddaughter of Robert Grosvenor, 1st Baron Ebury. In her journal Vita wrote "Oh, I dare say I realized vaguely that I had no business to sleep with Rosamund, and I should certainly never have allowed anyone to find it out," but she saw no real conflict.:29–30
Lady Sackville, Vita's mother, invited Rosamund to visit the family at their villa in Monte Carlo (1910). Rosamund also stayed with Vita at Knole House, at Scott's pied a terre on the Rue Laffitte in Paris, and at Sluie, Scott's shooting lodge in the Scottish Highlands, near Banchory. Their secret relationship ended in 1913 when Vita married.  Rosamund died in London in 1944 during a German V1 rocket raid.
I had learnt Italian with her in London, and we had been together in Paris, and had acted part of a play I wrote in French in five Alexandrine acts, about the Man in the Iron Mask, and in those days we rather ostentatiously talked to one another in French in order to tutoyer one another and so show what great friends we were.
The sexual relationship began when they were both in their teens and strongly influenced them for years. Both later married and became writers. :148
Sackville-West was courted for 18 months by young diplomat Harold Nicolson, whom she found to be a secretive character. She writes that the wooing was entirely chaste and throughout they had not so much as kissed. :68 In 1913, at age 21, Vita married him in the private chapel at Knole. Nicknamed 'Hadji', or 'Pilgrim', by his father, he was the third son of British diplomat Arthur Nicolson, 1st Baron Carnock. Sackville-West's parents were opposed to the marriage on the grounds that "penniless" Nicolson had an annual income of only £250. He was the third secretary at the British Embassy in Constantinople and his father had been made a peer only under Queen Victoria. Another of Sackville-West's suitors, Lord Granby, had an annual income of £100,000, owned vast acres of land and was heir to an old title, the Duchy of Rutland.:68
The couple had an open marriage. Both Sackville-West and her husband had same-sex relationships before and during their marriage, as did some of the people in the Bloomsbury Group of writers and artists, with whom they had connections.:127 Sackville-West saw herself as psychologically divided into two: one side of her personality was feminine, soft, submissive and attracted to men while the other side was masculine, hard, aggressive and attracted to women.
Following the pattern of his father's career, Harold Nicholson was at different times a diplomat, journalist, broadcaster, Member of Parliament, and author of biographies and novels. After the wedding the couple lived in Cihangir, a suburb of Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Sackville-West loved Constantinople, :95 but the duties of a diplomat's wife did not appeal to her. Only during her time in the Ottoman Empire did she accept with good grace the part of a "correct and adoring wife of the brilliant young diplomat", as she sarcastically wrote.:97
With Vita pregnant, the couple returned to England in the summer of 1914 to ensure that she could give birth in a British hospital. The couple bought Long Barn in Kent, where they lived from 1915 to 1930. They employed the architect Edwin Lutyens to make improvements to the house. The British declaration of war on the Ottoman Empire in November 1914, following Ottoman naval attacks on Russia, precluded a return to Constantinople. :131
The couple had two children: Nigel (1917–2004), who became a well-known editor, politician, and writer, and Benedict (1914–1978), an art historian. Another son was stillborn in 1915. At Christmas 1917, Nicolson had to tell his wife that he contracted a venereal disease from one of his anonymous homosexual encounters. He initially worried that he had passed it along to Vita, though subsequent medical tests established he did not.:113-114 His biographer writes:
Harold had a series of relationships with men who were his intellectual equals, but the physical element in them was very secondary. He was never a passionate lover. To him sex was as incidental, and about as pleasurable, as a quick visit to a picture-gallery between trains. 
Sackville-West continued to receive loving and devoted letters from her lover Violet Keppel. Sackville-West was deeply upset to read in a newspaper of Keppel's engagement to one Major Denys Trefusis.:131 Sackville-West's response was to travel to Paris to see Keppel, taking her to the Hotel Roosevelt. She wrote in her diary: "I treated her savagely, I made love to her, I had her, I didn't care, I only wanted to hurt Denys".:131 Keppel had used the engagement as a way of eliciting the response from Sackville-West she had wanted, and the next day Major Trefusis "almost turned white" when he discovered his fiancée and Sackville-West together in bed. He had understood that the two were just friends; he did not believe that women were capable of falling in love with one another.:132 That night, Sackville-West had dinner alone at the Ritz while Keppel watched her lovingly from the window in her room at an adjoining hotel while Denys Trefusis laid on the bed crying.:132
Keppel, deeply depressed and suicidal, did marry Major Trefusis, under pressure from her mother, though Keppel made it clear that she did not love her husband.:62 Sackville-West called the marriage her own greatest failure. She had made a plan for Keppel to escape with her to avoid marrying Trefusis, but was too cowardly to carry it out. She later wrote, "I sat quite dazed in my room holding my watch in my hand and watching the hands tick past the hour of Violet's wedding. All the time, I knew, she was expecting a prearranged message from me, which I never sent".:65
Sackville-West and Keppel disappeared together several times from 1918 on, mostly to France. One day in 1918 Vita writes that she experienced a radical 'liberation', where her male aspect was unexpectedly freed. She writes: "I went into wild spirits; I ran, I shouted, I jumped, I climbed, I vaulted over gates, I felt like a schoolboy let out on a holiday... that wild irresponsible day".
The mothers of both women, Lady Sackville and Mrs. Keppel, joined forces to sabotage the relationship and force both women back to their husbands. But they were unsuccessful. Vita often dressed as a man, styled as Keppel's husband. Keppel writes:
Heaven preserve me from littleness and pleasantness and smoothness. Give me great glaring vices, and great glaring virtues, but preserve me from the neat little neutral ambiguities. Be wicked, be brave, be drunk, be reckless, be dissolute, be despotic, be an anarchist, be a suffragette, be anything you like, but for pity's sake, be it to the top of your bent. Live fully, live passionately, live disastrously. Let's live, you and I, as none have ever lived before.
Both women were deeply interested in Spain, especially the Spanish Romany. Keppel wrote to Sackville-West that they should go to Spain with "you my pupil, I as your cicerone...I will show eyes of black velvet...the sevillana, the fandango, undulating bodies, throbbing castanets".:149 In another letter, Keppel wrote of her wish to live forever in Spain with Sackville-West, "a world of sun and love, and singing, and dancing".:150 Keppel sought to appeal to Sackville-West's fascination with the Romany people by telling her that she was turning into a "Gypsy", writing: "They said, this evening after you gone, that you were like a dazzling Gypsy. A Gypsy potentate, a sovereign-what you will, but still a Gypsy".:151 Keppel and Sackville-West both used Romany phrases to express intensely held feelings such as man camelo tuti ("I can't live without you"), nonero jeli ("our love"), and sartute loude gayeres ("escape with you").:152 Sackville-West wrote to Nicolson "if wasn't for you, I would go off with V[iolet].":129 In a letter to Nicolson dated 1 June 1919 explaining why she would not leave Keppel, Sackville-West wrote:
I never ought to have married you or anybody else; I ought just to have lived with you for as long as you wanted me... I ought never to have married til I was thirty. I really think that is the best solution for people like me... Women ought to have the freedom the same as men when they are young. It's a rotten and ridiculous system at present, it's simply cheating one of one's youth. It was all right for the Victorians. But this generation is discarding, and next will have discarded, the chrysalis.:126
Keppel continued to pursue Sackville-West to great lengths, until Sackville-West's affairs with other women finally took their toll. In November 1919, while staying at Monte Carlo, Sackville-West wrote in her diary that she was "down on" herself with "serious thoughts" of suicide as she believed that Nicolson "would be happier without" her in the world. The two women apparently made a bond to remain faithful to one another, meaning that although both were married, neither could engage in sexual relations with her own husband. In 1920 they ran off again to France together and their husbands chased after them in a small two-seater aeroplane. Vita always remained impressed with the energy Nicolson had put into the cross-channel chase. 
Sackville-West, who already had two children by Nicholson, was prompted to end the affair when she heard allegations that Keppel had been involved sexually with her own husband, indicating that she had broken the bond. When she decided to end the affair with Keppel, Sackville-West again contemplated suicide, writing in her diary "[I] hated myself to the extent of thinking I better vanish" from the world forever. Despite the rift, the two women stayed devoted to one another, and deeply in love. They continued to have occasional liaisons for a number of years afterwards, but never rekindled the full affair.
From 1925 to 1927, Nicolson lived in Tehran where Sackville-West often visited him. Sackville-West's book A Passenger to Tehran recounts her time in Iran. Sackville-West disliked Tehran, a city without running water or electricity, which she called a "squalid city of bad roads, rubbish heaps and a few pretentious buildings and mean houses on the verge of collapse".:30 At same time, she noted because of Tehran's location high up in the Alborz mountains the air was "pure as the note of a violin".:30 Nicolson and Sackville-West were present at the lavish coronation of Rezā Khan, in Tehran, Persia (now Iran). Sackville-West called Rezā Khan "...an alarming man, six feet four in height, with a sullen manner, a huge nose, grizzled hair and a brutal jowl." Sackville-West wrote on the eve of the coronation of Rezā Khan, there was "an air of excitement hanging about" Tehran as the "flags were out; festoons of electric light bulbs swooped along the face of the municipal bodies. Wild romantic horsemen paraded the streets in little bunches. Triumphal arches were in the process of erection".:30 She also noted the Persians had "with a characteristic lack of foresight...left everything to the last", but they acted "like people preparing for amateur theatricals...sustained by the conviction that it would be all right on the day".:30 People from all over Persia had come for the coronation of the new Shah, and Sackville-West noted how the capital was full of Baluchi, Turkoman, and Kurdish tribesmen all dressed in their best colourful clothing, adding to the air of excitement.:30 At night, all of Tehran was lit up by vast array of candlesticks and oil lamps burning in many buildings while the main streets were lit up by special oil lamps put up for the coronation and the night sky was illuminated by fireworks.:30 Sackville noted how the streets and even buildings were covered with brightly woven Persian carpets, turning a city of "bricks and plaster" into a "a great and sumptuous tent open to the sky".:30
Sackville-West became involved in planning the coronation of Rezā Khan, and got to know the six-year old Crown Prince Mohammad Reza fairly well.:31 She noted how the Persian court were obsessed with attempting to ensure the coronation was up to European standards. She remarked "there was no point, however humble, on which they would not consult their British friends", with their guidebook being a copy of "the proceedings at Westminster Abbey for the Coronation of His Majesty George V".:32 Much to her amusement, Sackville-West was asked by one Persian minister what a "Rouge Dragon Pursuivant" was, believing it was a type of animal.:32 On the coronation day, Sackville described waking up to a "Tehran spruce and furnished beyond recognition".:30 At the Golestan Palace, the throne room which housed the fabled Peacock Throne had been "repainted, the garden paved, such breaches in the walls as revealed the presence of rubbish-heaps were to be filled up".:30 Observing the coronation of Rezā Khan upon the Peacock Throne, Sackville-West referred to the Shia clergymen as a "bevy of bearded old men in long robes and turbans" who appeared like the "baleful chorus of a Greek play".:32 Sackville-West noted that everyone seemed to dislike the Shia clerics and kept a distance from them.:32 Rezā Khan was due to enter the throne room of the Golestan Palace at precisely 3 pm for the coronation, but Sackville-West noted how everyone became tense when the shah was half an hour late, which caused alarm as Rezā Khan was well known for his punctuality and had his ministers flogged if they were late to cabinet meetings.:31-32 Finally, the main doors opened and in marched Rezā Khan, dressed in his finest uniform and wearing a blue clock, and everyone fell silent.:32-33 Despite her disdain for the Persian monarchy as "absurd", Sackville-West found the coronation captivating as she found herself craning her neck to see Rezā Khan march up to the Peacock Throne.:32 Walking besides him was his son, the Crown Prince Mohammad Reza, who she wrote was "frightened, possessed himself of a corner of his father's clock".:33 Finally, Sackville-West noted that Rezā Khan crowned himself.:33 In her account of her visit to the former capital of Isfahan to see the Safavid palaces, Sackville-West's repeated use of the word "we" is misleading as it suggests that only Nicolson accompanied her to Isfahan, when in fact, Raymond Mortimer, her husband's lover also traveled in the same car with them.
Her relationship with the prominent writer Virginia Woolf commenced in 1925, ended in 1935, reaching its height between 1925-28.:195-214 The American scholar Louise DeSalvo wrote that the ten years between 1925-35 were the artistic peak of both women's careers as the two had a positive influence on one another: "neither had ever written so much so well, and neither would ever again reach this peak of accomplishment".:195-214 [b]
In December 1922 Sackville-West first met Virginia Woolf at a dinner party in London.:197 Interested in each other's work, Sackville-West lent Woolf a copy of her recently published family history Knole and the Sackvilles tracing her family's history from the 13th to the 20th centuries.
Though Sackville-West came from an aristocratic family that was far richer than Woolf's middle class family, both women bonded over having similar childhoods, as both had been largely confined to their homes during their early years.:198 Both women had difficult, if loving, parents and had been emotionally abandoned during their childhoods. Sackville-West's parents had effectively separated when she was a child (divorce was extremely difficult to obtain in Britain until 1967). The mother who raised her after the break-up was an infantile and immature woman, while her father was so consumed with grief that he was unable to relate emotionally to his children. Neither Woolf's father nor Sackville-West's mother had given their daughters the love they craved as they were growing up, an aspect of their childhoods that both women noted. Woolf knew about Sackville-West's relationship with Keppel. It impressed her as she regarded Sackville-West as a bold free spirit prepared to love whomever she felt attracted to.
Leonard Woolf wrote: "She [Sackville-West] belonged indeed to a world which was completely different from ours, and the long line of Sackvilles, Dorsets, Da La Warrs and Knole with its 365 rooms had put into her mind and heart an ingredient which was alien to us and at first made intimacy difficult".:198 While Sackville-West was visiting Nicholson in Tehran, Woolf wrote to her: "Then there's my character (you see how egotistical I am, for I only answer questions that are about myself), I agree with the lack of jolly vulgarity. But then think about how I was brought up! No school, mooning about alone among my father's books, never a chance to pick up all that goes on in the schools-throwing balls: ragging: slang: vulgarity: scenes: jealousies: only rages with my half brothers and being walked off my legs round the Serpentine by my father".:198 In her reply, Sackville-West wrote: "But indeed, my upbringing wasn't so different from yours: I move about too, at Knole mostly, and haven't had a brother or sister to knock the corners off me. And I never went to school. If I am jolly and vulgar, you can cry quits on another count, for you have that interest in humanity which I can never manage-at least I have the interest, but not the diabolical skill in its practice which is yours. As I get older...I get more and more disagreeably solitary".:198 Besides for having similar childhoods, both women had grown up with a profound sense of the weight of English history as Woolf's father Sir Leslie Stephen had been a leading contributor to The Dictionary of National Biography while Sackville-West had grown up at Knole House, one of the grand country houses of England.:199 Likewise, Sackville-West had felt torn between her Spanish heritage which contrasted with the English grandeur she had been brought up in at Knole House while Woolf felt torn between the "sobriety" of her father's family vs. the "flamboyance" of her mother's family.:199
Woolf wrote about meeting Sackville-West in 1925:
"Vita shines in the grocer's shop in Sevenoaks...pink growing, grape clustered, pearl hung...There is her maturity and full-breastedness; her being so much full in sail on the high tides, where I am coasting down backwaters; her capacity I mean to take the floor in any company, to represent her country, to visit Chatsworth, to control silver, servants, chow dogs, her motherhood...her in short being (what I have never been) a real woman".:57
Sackville-West greatly admired Woolf's writings, declaring in a 1925 letter:
"My darling, last night I went to bed early and read Mrs. Dalloway-It was a very curious sensation: I thought you were in the room...I was very unhappy because I had a row with my mother and very happy because of you; so it felt like being two different people at the same time...I felt quite light, as though I was falling through my bed, like when one has a high fever. Today I am quite solid again and my boots are quite muddy. They weigh me down. Yet I am not solid as usual-not quite an oaf-because there is at the back of my mind all the time...a glow, a sort of nebula, which only when I examine it hardens into a shape; as soon as I think of something else it dissolves again, remaining there like the sun through a fog and I have to reach out again, to take it into my hands & feel its contours: then it hardens, "Virginia is coming on Saturday!".:202
Sackville-West considered Woolf to be the better writer, telling Woolf in one letter: "I contrast my illiterate writing with your scholarly one, and I am ashamed".:202 Though Woolf envied Sackville-West's ability to quickly turn out books compared to her laborious efforts to turn out a novel, she was inclined to agree with this assessment, writing in her diary that A Passenger to Tehran was written too much in haste as "Vita's prose is too fluent".:202 Before going on her second trip to Persia in 1927, a chastened Sackville-West, after receiving several letters from Woolf telling her not to churn out books, wrote to Woolf: "I shall work so hard [on her next book], partly to please you and partly to please myself...I treasure your sudden discourse on literature yesterday morning, a send-off to me, rather like Polonius to Laertes. It is quite true that you have had infinitely more influence on me intellectually than anyone else, and for this alone, I love you...You do like me to write well, don't you? And I do hate writing badly-and having written so badly in the past. But now, like Queen Victoria, I will be good".:203
Woolf trusted Sackville-West so much that she admitted during a trip to France that she had been molested by her half-brother during her youth, an experience that Woolf normally preferred to avoid mentioning.:199 A somber Sackville-West wrote in her diary: "After dinner, V.[irgina] read me her memoir of Old Bloomsbury and talked a lot about her brother".:199 It was largely due to Sackville-West's encouragement and her role as an amateur therapist that Woolf overcome, at least partially, the damage caused to her self-esteem by the sexual abuse inflicted on her by her half-brothers, allowing her for the first time in her life to have a satisfying erotic relationship as Woolf told Sackville-West that she was the first person who had caused her to orgasm.:199 Woolf, who suffered from spectrophobia, had her mood so improved by Sackville-West that she purchased a mirror during a trip to France with her lover, saying she felt she could look in a mirror for the first time in her life.:199
Sackville-West constantly sought to improve Woolf's self-esteem, telling her not to think of herself as a sickly semi-reclusive who needed to hide herself from the world, but rather praised her for her health, her liveliness and sense of wit, her intelligence and achievements as a writer.:199 Sackville-West led Woolf to a reappraisal of herself, helping her to develop a more positive self-image, and a sense that her writings were the products of her strengths, rather than her weakness.:200 From the age of 15 on, Woolf had been led to believe by her father's doctor and her father that reading and writing had a deleterious effect on her nerves, and she needed to engage in physical labour like gardening to prevent a total collapse of her nerves, leading Woolf to spend her time obsessively engaging in physical labor.:200 Woolf tended to push herself relentlessly until illness, whether real or imagined, became the only way that she could relax without guilt.:200 Sackville-West was the first to persuade Woolf that her nervous ailments had been misdiagnosed, and she was better to engage in reading and writing to calm her nerves, advice that was taken.:200-201 Under her influence, Woolf learned to spend her time switching from one form of intellectual activity to another, from writing a novel to a book review to reading a book, instead of spending her time in physical activities that sapped her strength.:201 In 1925, Sackville-West wrote to Woolf: "Why do you give so much of your energies to the manuscripts of other people? You told me in London that you had at least six novels in your head but were being severe with yourself until you should go to Rodmell. Now you are at Rodmell and what of the six novels? Between Ottoline, Gertrude Stein, and bridal parties which cause you to faint, what time is there for Virginia?":200 Sackville-West tried to persuade Woolf to learn to relax without guilt, telling her she would feel better if she only learned to rest.:200
To assist Woolf and her husband Leonard with the struggling Hogarth Press, Sackville-West chose the Hogarth Press to be her publisher.:201 Seducers in Ecuador, the first Sackville-West novel to be published by Hogarth did not sell well, selling only 1, 500 copies in its first year, but the next Sackville-West novel to be published by Hogarth, The Edwardians, was a huge success that sold 30, 000 copies in its first six months.:201 Sackville-West's novels helped to put Hogarth into the black, though Woolf did not always appreciate this, writing dismissively in 1933 of Sackville-West's "servant girl" novels.:201 In turn, the financial security provided by Sackville-West's books allowed Woolf to write more experimental novels like The Waves, as before Woolf had to be cautious when Hogarth depended solely upon her own writings for its income.:201 Though Woolf is generally considered today to be the better writer, in the 1920s Sackville-West was viewed by the critics as the more accomplished author and her books outsold Woolf's by a large margin.:66-67 The extent to which Hogarth depended upon Sackville-West to stay in business was reflected in a letter Woolf sent her on 7 September 1930 saying: "What about your novel and your poems? I ask in no idle curiosity; I look upon you now as the Woolf bread-winner since I am more and more certain that my next novel won't win us even the penny bun".:201
Sackville-West loved to travel, frequently going to France, Spain and to visit Nicolson in Persia, and these trips were emotionally draining for Woolf, who missed Sackville-West intensely.:204 Woolf's novel To the Lighthouse with its theme of longing for someone who is not there was inspired partly by the frequent absences of Sackville-West.:204
Woolf was inspired by Sackville-West to write one of her most famous novels, Orlando, featuring a protagonist who changes sex over the centuries. This work was described by Sackville-West's son Nigel Nicolson as "the longest and most charming love-letter in literature." Unusually, Woolf documented the moment of the conception of Orlando: she wrote in her diary on 5 October 1927: "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" (excerpt from her diary published posthumously by her husband Leonard Woolf). Woolf felt she needed Sackville-West's permission to write Orlando, asking in a letter: "But listen, suppose Orlando turns out to be Vita and its all about you and the lusts of your flesh and the lure of your mind...Do you mind, say Yes or No?":59 Reflecting Sackville-West's interest in the Romany, when Orlando goes to bed as a man and mysteriously wakes up as a woman in Constantinople (which is implied might have been the result of a spell cast by a Romany witch whom he married), it is at a Romany camp in the Balkans that Orlando is first welcomed and accepted as a woman, as the Romany in the novel make no distinctions between the sexes.:157 Ultimately Woolf satirizes Sackville-West's Romany fetish, as Orlando, an English aristocrat, prefers not to live in poverty as part of wandering Romany caravan in the Balkans, because the call of a settled life of the aristocracy at a country house in England proves to too strong for her, just as in real life Sackville-West fantasised about living the nomadic life of a Romany, but in reality preferred the settled life in the English countryside.:158 Orlando, which was intended as a fantasy where the character of Orlando (a stand-in for Sackville-West) inherits an estate not unlike Knole (which Sackville-West would have inherited as the eldest child if she had been a man) ironically marked the beginning of a tension between the two women.:206 Sackville-West often complained in her letters that Woolf was more interested in writing a fantasy about her than in returning her gestures of affection in the real world.:206 After finishing Orlando, Woolf wrote a letter to Sackville-West saying: "For Promiscuous you are and that is all to be said about it. Look in the Index of Orlando-after Pippin and see what comes next-Promiscuity passim".:213 In another letter, Woolf warned Sackville-West: "Yes, you are an agile animal-no doubt about it-but as to your gambols being diverting...I'm not so sure...I'm a fair-minded woman. You only be careful with your gamboling or you'll find Virginia's soft crevices lined with hooks".:66
Woolf was often bothered by what she viewed as Sackville-West's promiscuity, charging that Sackville-West's need for sex led her to take up with anyone who struck her fancy.:213 Sackville-West had a stronger desire for sex and a greater willingness to talk about her desires than did Woolf, which caused tensions, though Woolf wrote to Sackville-West in 1928 that "The sound of your loud balmy voice coming across the marshes last night...stirred the embers of my desire".:206 When Nicolson was stationed at the British Embassy in Berlin, Sackville-West followed him to Berlin, which was considered a more livable city for a British woman than Tehran.:206 When Woolf went to Berlin to see Sackville-West, she became seriously ill which led Sackville-West to tell her: "Do you know what I believe it was, apart from the flu? It was SUPPRESSED RANDINESS. So there-you remember your admissions as the searchlight went around and around?":206 In her 1929 novel A Room Of One's Own, Woolf attacks patriarchal inheritance laws, which was meant to be an implicit criticism of Sackville-West, who keenly resented that she did not inherit Knole, but never questioned the leading social position of the aristocracy to which she belonged, much to Woolf's annoyance, who felt that Sackville-West was unable to critique the system she was both a part of and to a certain extent a victim of.:209-210
Sackville-West clashed with Woolf regarding Nicolson's "unfortunate" involvement with Oswald Mosley and the New Party (later renamed the British Union of Fascists) [c] In the 1930s, Woolf and Sackville-West clashed again over the question of pacifism, as Sackville-West supported rearmament while Woolf remained loyal to her pacifism, leading to an end of their relationship in 1935.:214
In 1927 Sackville-West had a affairs with Mary Garman, a member of the Bloomsbury Group and between 1929 and 1931 with Hilda Matheson, head of the BBC Talks Department. In 1931, Sackville-West was in a ménage à trois with journalist Evelyn Irons and Irons's lover, Olive Rinder. Irons had interviewed Vita after her novel The Edwardians had become a best-seller.
In 1930 the family acquired and moved to Sissinghurst Castle, near Cranbrook, Kent. It had once been owned by Vita's ancestors. This gave it a dynastic attraction as her father had disinherited her from Knole and a title. Sissinghurst was an Elizabethan ruin and the creation of the gardens would be a joint labour of love that would last many decades, first entailing years of clearing debris from the land. Nicolson provided the architectural structure, with strong classical lines, which would frame his wife's innovative informal planting schemes. She created a new and experimental system of enclosures or rooms, such as the White Garden, Rose Garden, Orchard, Cottage Garden and Nuttery. She also innovated single colour-themed gardens and design principles orientating the visitors' experience to discovery and exploration. Her first garden at Long Barn (Kent, 1915-1930) was experimental, a place of learning by trial and error and she carried over her ideas and projects to Sissinghurst, utilising her hard won experience.  Sissinghurst was first opened to the public in 1938.
Sackville-West took up writing again in 1930 after a six-year break as she needed money to pay for Sissinghurst. Nicolson, having left the Foreign Office, no longer had a diplomat's salary to draw upon. She also had to pay tuition for her two sons to attend Eton College. She felt she had become a better writer thanks to the mentorship of Woolf.:204 In 1947 she began a weekly column in The Observer called "In your Garden", although she was not a trained horticulturalist or designer.  She continued the very popular column until a year before her death, and writing helped to make Sissinghust one of the most famous and visited gardens in England.
Sackville-West felt a deep sense of loss in signing documents in 1947 relinquishing any claim on Sissinghurst, as part of its transition to the National Trust. She wrote of the signing that it "nearly broke my heart, putting my signature to what I regarded as a betrayal of all the tradition of my ancestors and the house I loved." She continued to live there until her death. In 1948 she became a founder member of the National Trust's garden committee. The grounds are now run by the National Trust.  She was awarded the Veitch Memorial Medal from the Royal Horticultural Society.
Portrait of a marriageEdit
In the early 1920s Sackville-West wrote a memoir of her relationships. In it she sought to explain both why she had chosen to stay with Nicolson and why she had fallen in love with Violet Keppel. The work, titled Portrait of a Marriage, was not published until 1973. In the book she uses metaphors from nature to present her account as truthful and honest, describing her life a "bog" and a "swamp", suggesting that her personal life was naturally unappealing and unpleasant. Sackville-West stated that she wanted to explain her sexuality, which she presented as being at the core of her personality. She wrote that in the future "it will be recognized that many more people of my type do exist than under the present-day system of hypocrisy is commonly admitted".:128
Reflecting a certain ambivalence about her sexuality, Sackville-West presented her sexual desires for Keppel as both "deviant" and "natural", as if she herself was uncertain of whether her sexuality was normal or not, though the American scholar Georgia Johnston has argued that Sackville-West's confusion on this point was due to her wish to have this memoir published one day. In this regard, Sackville-West wrote of her deep desire and love for Keppel while at same time declaring her "shame" about this "duality with which I was too weak and too self-indulgent to struggle". At various times, Sackville-West called herself a "pariah" with a "perverted nature" and "unnatural" " feelings for Keppel, who was portrayed as a tempting, if degrading, object of her desire. Sackville-West called for a "spirit of candor" in society that would allow for tolerance of gay and bisexual people. Much influenced by the theories promoted by sexologists like Magnus Hirschfeld, Edward Carpenter, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Havelock Ellis and Sigmund Freud, Sackville-West sometimes wrote of her sexuality as abnormal and wrong and due to some psychological flaw she was born with, portraying heterosexuality as the norm that she wanted, but failed to live up to.
Several times, Sackville-West stated that she wrote Portrait of a Marriage for scientific purposes so people would be able to understand bisexual people, which would thus allow her, despite her self-condemnation, to present her sexuality as in some way normal. Several of the sexologists Sackville-West cited, most notably Carpenter and Ellis, had argued that homosexuality and bisexuality were in fact normal, and despite her condemning herself, her use of a "scientific" approach backed up with quotes from Ellis and Carpenter allowed her to present her bisexuality as implicitly normal.:127-128 Writing in the third person, Sackville-West declared "she regrets that the person Harold married wasn't entirely and wholly what he had thought of her, and that the person who loves and owns Violet isn't a second person, because each suits each other".:128-129 Sackville-West presented her sexuality as part of the personality she had been born with, portraying herself as an accursed woman who should be the object of sympathy, not condemnation.
In 1973, when her son Nigel Nicolson published Portrait of a Marriage, he was uncertain if he was going to be charged with obscenity, going to considerable lengths to stress the legitimacy of a love for a person of the same sex in his introduction.:130-131 Despite portraying herself as some way "deviant" because of her feelings for women, Sackville-West also wrote in Portrait of a Marriage of the discovery and acceptance of her bisexuality as a teenager as the joyous "liberation of half my personality", suggesting that she did not really see herself as a woman with "deviant" sexuality, as this statement contradicted what she had written at the beginning of the book about her "perverted" sexuality.:131 Johnson wrote that Sackville-West, in presenting the lesbian side of herself in terms that depicted Keppel as evil and Nicolson as good, was the only way possible at the time to express this side of her personality, writing "even if annihilating herself seemed the only way she could present any type of acceptable self.":131
Sackville-West's novel Challenge (1923) also bears witness to her affair with Keppel: Sackville-West and Keppel had started writing this book as a collaborative endeavour. It was published in America but banned in the UK until 1974.
The male character's name, Julian, had been Sackville-West's nickname when passing as a man. Challenge (first entitled Rebellion, then Enchantment, then Vanity and at some point Foam), is a roman à clef with the character of Julian being a male version of Sackville-West and Eve, the woman he desires so passionately is Keppel. :133 Notably, Sackville-West in Challenge defends Keppel against several of the insults Nicolson had applied to her in his letters to her; for example Nicolson often called Keppel a "swine" and a "pig", and in the book Julian goes out of his way to say that Eve is neither a swine nor a pig.:134 In the book, Julian says that "Eve is not a 'little swine', she just has the weaknesses and faults of femininity carried to the 9th degree, but is also redeemed by a self-sacrifice, which is very feminine".:134
Reflecting her obsession with the Romany people, Eve is portrayed as a seductive Romany woman with an "insinuating femininity" that Julian cannot resist, calling him away from his political mission of winning independence on a fictional Greek island during the Greek war of independence.:153-154 Nicolson wrote in a letter to his wife: "Don't please dedicate it to Violet, it would kill me if you did".:134 When Challenge was published in 1924, the dedication was written in Romany reading: "This book is yours, honoured witch. If you read it, you will find your tormented soul changed and free".:134 Throughout their relationship, Keppel was given to threatening suicide if Sackville-West left her, a character trait shared by Eve, who finally attempts to drown herself in the sea while Julian tries to come to her rescue.:134 As Eve changes her mind about taking her life and tries to swim ashore as Julian swims out to her, it is too late and she is swept away by the tide to drown.:134 The book's ending reflected Sackville-West's guilt about breaking her relationship with Keppel.:134
Her mother, Lady Sackville, found the portrayal obvious enough to refuse to allow publication of the novel in England; but Vita's son Nigel Nicolson praises his mother: "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?"
Sackville-West was fascinated with and often wrote about the Roma people. As the British scholar Kirstie Blair noted, for her: "Gypsies represent liberation, excitement, danger and the free expression of sexuality".:141 In particular, the Roma women, especially Spanish Romany women, served as a symbol for lesbianism in her writings.:141-142 As with many other women writers in this period, for Sackville-West, the Romany represented a social element both familiar and strange; a people perceived and admired as flamboyant romantics while at the same time viewed and hated as shifty, dishonest types; a rootless people who belonged nowhere yet could be found everywhere in Europe, serving as a symbol for a sort of unconventional femininity.:142-143 The picture Sackville-West held of the Romany was much influenced by "Orientalism", as the Romany were believed to have originated from India. The idea of a people who belonged nowhere, existing outside of the values of "civilization", held genuine appeal to her as it offered up the possibility of gender roles different from those held in the West.:144 Sackville-West was English, but she invented Romany ancestry for herself on the Spanish side of her family, explaining her bohemian behavior as due to her alleged "Gypsy" descent.:142
Sackville-West's 1932 novel Family History is the first of her novels to explicitly raise the subject of lesbianism, albeit in an oblique form. Character Evelyn Jerrold has more than familial feelings of love for her teenage niece Ruth.:207-208 Jerrold, ashamed of her feelings for Ruth, tries to root them out them by marrying. She inadvertently destroys her husband by demanding more and more from him. She cannot bring herself to admit her love for Ruth or see that her husband can never be a substitute.:208
The characters of Viola and Leonard Anquetil in Family History are socialists, pacifists and feminists, thinly veiled versions of Virginia and Leonard Woolf.:212 In Orlando, Woolf allowed Vita to finally "own" Knole, and in Family History, Vita returns the gesture, as the Anquetils have children who turned out to be intelligent and decent people.:212 Woolf had never had children and was afraid that she would have been a bad mother. In casting her fictional alter-ego as an excellent mother she was offering a "gift" to Woolf.:212
Other work and achievementsEdit
Most of the novels were an immediate success (except Dark Island, Grand Canyon and La Grande Mademoiselle. All Passion Spent (1931) and Seducers in Ecuador (1924) sold especially well. Somewhat Ironically Seducers overtook her mentor's novel Mrs Dalloway at the top of the sales charts.)
The Edwardians (1930) and All Passion Spent 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 following convention. This novel was dramatised by the BBC in 1986 starring Dame Wendy Hiller. All Passion Spent appears to reflect Woolf's influence. The character of as Lady Slane begins to truly live only after the death of her husband, a former prime minister. She befriends the servants of her estate, discovering that the lives of people she had previously ignored.:211 At the end of the novel Lady Slane persuades her granddaughter to break off an arranged marriage in order to pursue her career as a musician.:211
Grand Canyon (1942) is a science fiction "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. 
The poetry remains the least known of Sackville-West work. It encompassed epics and translations of volumes such as Rilke's Duino Elegies. Her epic poems The Land and The Garden (1946) reflect an enduring passion for the earth and family tradition. The Land may have been written in response to the central work of Modernist poetry The Waste Land. It was dedicated to her lover Dorothy Wellesley. . The poem won the Hawthornden Prize in 1927. She won it again, becoming the only writer to do so, in 1933 with her Collected Poems. The Garden won the Heinemann award for literature.
Her epic poem Solitude, published by the Hogarth Press in October 1938 contains references to the Bible, Paracelsus, Ixion, Catullus, Andromeda, the Iliad and a Sabine bride, all of which were quite acceptable in the early 20th century, but were seen as anachronistic by 1938.:409 The narrator of Solitude has an ardent love of the English countryside. Though the sex of the narrator is left ambiguous, implied at various points to be a man or a woman, it is made clear the narrator loved intensely a woman who is no longer present and who is deeply missed.:409 At one point, the narrator's horror and disgust at Ixion, a brutal rapist, implies that she is a woman. At another point in the poem, her desire to free Andromeda from her chains and to make love suggests that she is a lesbian.:412-413 The narrator compares the love of nature to the love of books, as both cultivate her mind. She thinks of herself as superior to the farmers who merely work the land without the time or the interest for poetry, all of which make it possible for her to have a deeper appreciation of nature.:414
She not well known as a biographer. The most famous of those works is her biography of Saint Joan of Arc in the work of the same name. Additionally, she composed a dual biography of Saint Teresa of Ávila and Thérèse of Lisieux entitled The Eagle and the Dove, a biography of the author Aphra Behn, and a biography of her maternal grandmother, the Spanish dancer known as Pepita.
Despite being a shy woman, Sackville-West often forced herself to participate in literary readings before book clubs and on the BBC in order to feel a sense of belonging.:408 Her love of the classical traditions in literature put her out of favour with modernist critics and by the 1940s, she was often dismissed as a dated writer, much to her chagrin. In 1947 Sackville-West was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Companion of Honour.
Death and legacyEdit
Vita Sackville-West died at Sissinghurst in June 1962, aged 70, from abdominal cancer. She was cremated and ashes buried in the family crypt within the church at Withyham, eastern Sussex. Sissinghurst Castle is now owned by the National Trust, given by Sackville-West's son Nigel to escape payment of inheritance taxes.
A recording was made of Sackville-West reading from her poem "The Land". This was on four 78rpm sides in the Columbia Records 'International Educational Society' Lecture series, Lecture 98 (Cat. no. D 40192/3).
The film Vita & Virginia began filming in September 2017. Its current cast include Elizabeth Debicki and Isabella Rossellini. It is directed by Chanya Button and based on a play by Eileen Atkins, created from the love letters between Sackville-West and Woolf. The play was first performed in London in October 1993 and off Broadway in November 1994.
- Chatterton (1909)
- A Dancing Elf (1912)
- Constantinople: Eight Poems (1915)
- Poems of West and East (1917)
- Orchard and Vineyard (1921)
- The Land (1927)
- King's Daughter (1929)
- Sissinghurst (1931)
- Invitation to Cast out Care (1931)
- Collected Poems: Volume 1 (1933)
- Solitude (1938)
- The Garden (1946)
- Heritage (1919)
- The Dragon in Shallow Waters (1921)
- The Heir (1922)
- Challenge (1923)
- Grey Wethers (1923)
- Seducers in Ecuador (1924)
- Passenger to Teheran (1926)
- The Edwardians (1930)
- All Passion Spent (1931)
- The Death of Noble Godavary and Gottfried Künstler (1932)
- Thirty Clocks Strike the Hour (1932)
- Family History (1932)
- The Dark Island (1934)
- Grand Canyon (1942)
- Devil at Westease (1947)
- The Easter Party (1953)
- No Signposts in the Sea (1961)
- Duineser Elegien: Elegies from the Castle of Duino, by Rainer Maria Rilke trns. V. Sackville-West (Hogarth Press, London, 1931)
Biographies and non-fictionEdit
- "Aphra Behn: the Incomparable Astrea" (Gerald Howe 1927)
- Passenger to Teheran (Hogarth Press 1926, reprinted Tauris Parke Paperbacks 2007, ISBN 978-1-84511-343-8)
- Knole and the Sackvilles (1922)
- Saint Joan of Arc (Doubleday 1936, reprinted M. Joseph 1969)
- English Country Houses (William Collins, 1941, illustrated)
- Pepita (Doubleday, 1937, reprinted Hogarth Press 1970)
- The Eagle and The Dove (M. Joseph 1943)
- Twelve Days: an account of a journey across the Bakhtiari Mountains of South-western Persia (first published UK 1927; Doubleday Doran 1928; M. Haag 1987, reprinted Tauris Parke Paperbacks 2009 as Twelve Days in Persia)
- Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden (with Sarah Raven; St. Martin's Press 2014, ISBN 978-1-250-06005-1)
- Technically, these are the Salic rules of agnatic male primogeniture.
- In a letter to her son, Nigel Nicolson (Portrait of A Marriage), Vita Sackville-West wrote that the physical component of her famous affair with Virginia Woolf had consisted of two occasions when they went to bed together and even then, they may have only engaged in "bundling", since Vita was aware of Woolf's extreme emotional fragility and did not want to cause her a mental breakdown with a tempestuously sexual affair.:206
- An angry Woolf wrote to Sackville-West in August 1931: "Potto [their name for sex] expiring. What about Harold and Mosley? But don't write if it hurts".:214
- Sackville-West (2015) p1
- Cannadine, David (1994). Aspects of Aristocracy: Grandeur and Decline in Modern Britain. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. pp. 224–241. ISBN 0300059817. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
- Sackville-West (2015) p2
- Sackville-West (2015) pxiv
- Sackville-West (2015) p1
- Sackville-West (2015) pxiv
- Bell, Matthew. Inheritance: The Story of Knole and the Sackvilles, By Robert Sackville-West. 'The Independent', 16 May 2010;
- Hughes, Kathryn. "Love among the roses – Kathryn Hughes is touched by an unsentimental memoir", The Guardian', 27 September 2008.
- "More family history from Knole and Sissinghurst", The Spectator, Anne Chisholm, 16 April 2016
- Sackville-West (2015) pXiii
- Sackville-West (2015) pp1-2
- Rose, Norman,Harold Nicolson Random House, 2014, pxxx
- Sackville-West (2015) p2
- Sackville-West (2015) p2
- Rose, Norman,Harold Nicolson Random House, 2014, pxxxii
- Sackville-West (2015) p3
- Rose, Norman,Harold Nicolson Random House, 2014, ppxxxi - xxxxii
- Nicolson, Nigel; Sackville-West, Vita (1998) . Portrait of a Marriage. The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-58357-0.
- Sackville-West (2015) p3
- Rose, Norman,Harold Nicolson Random House, 2014, ppxxxi - xxxxii
- Sackville-West (2015) p3
- Blair, Kirstie (Summer 2004). "Gypsies and Lesbian Desire: Vita Sackville-West, Violet Trefusis, and Virginia Woolf". Twentieth Century Literature. 50 (2): 141–166. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
- Dennison, Matthew (June 2015) . Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita Sackville-West. William Collins. ISBN 978-0007486984.
- Glendinning (Knopf, 1983) p436
- Johnston, Georgia (Autumn 2004). "Counterfeit Perversion: Vita Sackville-West's 'Portrait of a Marriage". Journal of Modern Literature. 28 (1): 124–137. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
- Spartacus Educational Biography, quote from Portrait of a Marriage (1973)
- Smith, Victoria (Summer 2006). ""Ransacking the Language": Finding the Missing Goods in Virginia Woolf's Orlando". The Journal of Modern Literature. 29 (4): 57–75. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
- Sackville-West (2015) p4
- Sackville-West (2015) p4
- Sackville-West (2015) p4
- Sackville-West (2015) p4
- Milani, Abbas (June 2012). The Shah. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0230340381.
- Ghanī (2000) p394
- Nicolson (2007)p20
- DeSalvo, Louise (Winter 1982). "Lighting the Cave: The Relationship between Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf". Signs. 8 (2): 195–214. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
- Nicolson, Nigel Virginia Woolf, London: Penguin, 2000 page 87.
- Sackville-West and 6th Earl of Harewood, sparknotes.com; accessed 17 October 2014.
- Charlotte Higgins "What can the origins of the BBC tell us about its future?", The Guardian, 15 April 2014
- Lewis, Paul (30 April 2000). "Obituaries". Evelyn Irons, War Reporter, Is Dead at 99. New York Times. Retrieved 15 January 2012.
- Brenner, Felix (25 April 2000). "Obituary: Evelyn Irons". The Independent (London). The Independent.
- Garden Designer Vita Sackville-West, Great British Gardens
- Guardian "Vita Sackville-West's Notebook: teaching resource from the GNM archive July 2013 ".1 July 2013
- Lord (2000) pp. 67, 100
- Macmillian Biography
- Lord (2000) pp. 67, 100
- National Trust. Vita biography
- Poetry Foundation biography
- "Masterpiece Theatre Portrait of a Marriage Parts I-III", Variety, 17 July 1992
- Spartacus Educational Biography
- Sackville (2015) p5
- Sackville-West (2015) p13
- Pan Macmillan, Grand Canyon
- Spartacus Educational Biography
- Sackville-West (2015) pp13-14
- National Trust. Vita biography
- Spartacus Educational Biography
- Nagel, Rebecca (September 2008). "The Classical Tradition in Vita Sackville-West's Solitude"". International Journal of the Classical Tradition. 15 (3): 407–427. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
- "The London Gazette Issue 38161 published on the 30 December 1947. Page 31 of 42". London Gazette. 30 December 1947.
- Who's who in Gay and Lesbian History: From Antiquity to World War II, Psychology Press, 2001, Volume 1 p390
- Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Locations 41300-41301). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
- "A happy return to manure". The Economist. 2 October 2008. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
- Catalogue of Columbia Records, Up to and including Supplement no. 252 (Columbia Graphophone Company, London September 1933), p. 375.
- "Elizabeth Debicki, Isabella Rossellini Join Virginia Woolf Biopic Vita & Virginia" Variety 23 August 2017
- "Passenger to Teheran". www.fadedpage.com.
- "Grand Canyon". www.fadedpage.com.
- Carney, Michael: Stoker: The Life of Hilda Matheson, privately published, Llangynog, 1999
- Ghanī, Sīrūs & Ghani, Cyrus: Iran and the Rise of the Reza Shah: From Qajar Collapse to Pahlavi Power, London: .B.Tauris, 2000
- Glendinning, Victoria: Vita. A Biography of Vita Sackville-West, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1983
- Glendinning, Victoria: Vita: The Life of V. Sackville-West, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1983
- Lord, Tony (2000). Gardening at Sissinghurst. Frances Lincoln & National Trust.
- Nicolson, Nigel: "Introduction" from A Passenger to Tehran, London: I.B Tauris, 2007
- Sackville-West, Vita: Vita Sackville-West: Selected Writings, Preface by Nigel Nicolson, St. Martin's Press, 2015
- Robert Cross and Ann Ravenscroft-Hulme: Vita Sackville-West: A Bibliography (Oak Knoll Press, 1999); ISBN 1-58456-004-5
- Eberle, Iwona: Eve with a Spade: Women, Gardens, and Literature in the Nineteenth Century (Grin, 2011); ISBN 978-3-640-84355-8
- Peggy Wolf: Sternenlieder und Grabgesänge. Vita Sackville-West: Eine kommentierte Bibliographie der deutschsprachigen Veröffentlichungen von ihr und über sie 1930 – 2005. (Daphne-Verlag, Göttingen, 2006); ISBN 3-89137-041-5
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- Fuller list of Vita Sackville-West's publications
- Portrait photos at npg.org.uk  
- NPG Sackville-West family tree
- "Archival material relating to Vita Sackville-West". UK National Archives.
- Works by Vita Sackville-West at Project Gutenberg
- Works by Vita (Victoria Mary) Sackville-West at Faded Page (Canada)
- Works by or about Vita Sackville-West at Internet Archive
- Works by Vita Sackville-West at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)