Victoria Sackville-West

Victoria Sackville-West Biography

English poet and novelist, born into an old aristocratic family, proprietors of Knole House in Kent. Vita Sackville-West wrote about the Kentish countryside and she was the chief model for Orlando in Virginia Woolf's novel of that same title from 1928. Sackville-West's best known poem, THE LAND, was awarded the Hawthorne Prize in 1927.

The country habit has me by the heart,

For he's bewitched for ever who has seen,

Not with his eyes but with his vision,

Spring

Flow down the woods and stipple leaves

with sun.

('Winter' from The Land)

Victoria Mary Sackville-West was the only child of Lionel Edward, third Baron of Sackville, and Victoria Josepha Dolores Catalina Sackville-West, his first cousin and the illegitimate daughter of the diplomat Sir Lionel Sackville-West. She was educated privately. As a child she started to write poetry, writing her first ballads at the age of 11. "I don't remember either my father or my mother very vividly at that time, except that Dada used to take me for terribly long walks and talk to me about science, principally Darwin, and I liked him a great deal better than mother, of whose quick temper I was frightened." (from Portrait of a Marriage by Nigel Nicolson, 1973) Vita's mother considered her ugly - she was bony, she had long legs, straight hair, and she wanted to be as boyish as possible.

Between 1906 and 1910 Sackville-West produced eight novels and five plays. CHATTERTON, A DRAMA IN THREE ACTS, was privately printed and appeared in 1909. In 1913 she married the diplomat and critic Harold Nicolson, with whom she lived a long time in Persia and then at the Sissinghurst Castle in Kent.

Sackville-West's father died in 1928 and his brother became the fourth Baron Sackville, inheriting Knole. Her husband decided in 1929 to resign from the foreign service and devote himself to writing. They purchased Sissinghurst Castle, a near-derelict house, and started to restore it. In the 1930s Sackville-West published The Edwardians (1930), All Passion Spent(1931), and Family History (1932) which were bestsellers and portrayed English upper-class manners and life. Pepita (1937) depicted the story of her grandmother, who was a Spanish dancer. Her passionate gardening was rewarded in 1955 by the Royal Horticultural Society. Sackville-West also wrote several books about gardening and kept a regular column at the Observer from 1946.

In 1946 Sackville-West was made a Companion of Honour for her services to literature. She died of cancer on June 2, 1962. Harold Nicolson died six years later. Sackville-West believed in equal rights for women. She is best remembered for her novels but her most enduring work was perhaps the garden at Sissinghurst Castle, evidently the joint creation of Harold and Vita, and as Nigel Nicolson suggested the true Portrait of their marriage. Nicolson published in 1973 a book, Portrait of a Marriage, which was based on her parents' journals and notes, and described their private life and marriage. The book was made into a television mini-series in 1990, starring Cathryn Harrison, Janet McTeer and David Haigh.

The Best Poem Of Victoria Sackville-West

Days I Enjoy

Days I enjoy are days when nothing happens,
When I have no engagements written on my block,
When no one comes to disturb my inward peace,
When no one comes to take me away from myself
And turn me into a patchwork, a jig-saw puzzle,
A broken mirror that once gave a whole reflection,
Being so contrived that it takes too long a time
To get myself back to myself when they have gone.
The years are too strickly measured, and life too short
For me to afford such bits of myself to my friends.
And what have I to give my friends in the last resort?
An awkwardness, a shyness, and a scrap,
No thing that's truly me, a bootless waste,
A waste of myself and them, for my life is mine
And theirs presumably theirs, and cannot touch.

Victoria Sackville-West Comments

Sylvia Frances Chan 02 February 2018

Aside from that all, Ron Price, you cannot compare your male life with that of a female's.You have no list of duties really to be done as demanded by society. The society you live in, let you free wherever you wish to go.That is entirely different than whenever you must constantly.So many people love gardening, each his own style.

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Kumud Dash 18 March 2014

Like the poem very much-it is not necessary to be gardener of the same garden to enjoy the beauty of a garden-to lie the life together.

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Ron Price 11 January 2008

A prose-poem written in praise of Vita Sackville-West and in appreciation for her inspiration as a pioneer. ________________________ GARDENERS Just three months before my own pioneering life began in August 1962 on the homefront in the Canadian Baha’i community, Vita Sackville-West passed away. A pioneer herself, in quite a different sense of course than my own pioneering experience, she was born just months before the passing of Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith, in 1892. In many ways her pioneering life was a polar-opposite, certainly a strikingly different one, to my own adventure across two continents. Her first love affair was with a house, then a husband, then several lesbian relationships, one of which was with the famous writer Virginia Woolf and, finally, with a garden at Sissinghurst Castle in rural Kent. My love affairs were with baseball, then the Baha’i Faith and finally with an assortment of people and things: Judy Gower and Christine Sheldrick in two marriages, a long career in teaching and, finally, with learning and the cultural attainments of the mind. In this last category, especially writing and especially poetry, Vita Sackville-West and I shared an equal love and passion.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over Four Epochs,11 January 2008 with thanks to ABC TV: “National Trust: Garden Treasures, ” 10 Jan.2008,6: 00-7: 00 p.m. I never shared your love of gardening, Vita, nor your ardent Latin temperament. My garden was always one of words like yours tended tenderly and now famously famous. My temperament was Welsh— English, coloured by a bipolar disorder. We both ran against convention’s grain, possessed an exuberance, complexity of character, a strong marriage and wrote endless reams of poetry over many years. In the process we both produced a rich and varied body of work amidst life’s turmoil but, in the end, whatever we did and whatever we were-first and foremost we were poets—wouldn’t you say, Vita? I must say, though, Vita, you were in the major league of writers while I was but a minor player with a minor role, in a minor key. Time will tell, of course, eh Vita? What do you think Vita from your place now in the land of lights where gardens of endless splendour adorn your days, I trust, Vita, I trust. You changed the face of gardening1 while I spread the seeds of a new Order that would, in time, change the face of this earth, containing as these seeds did the fruits and blossoms of consecrated joy and enable their gardeners to labor serenely, confidently and unremittently, as you did in your garden, to produce a Place of exquisite and most delightful beauty for the millions. 1 Victoria Glendinning, Vita; the Life of V. Sackville-West, Weidenfeld & Nicholson,1983. Ron Price 11 January 2008 ____________________

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