On March 9, 1892, The 3rd Baron Lional Sackville waited for the his wife Baroness Victoria to deliver their first child. Only a male child would inherit the beautiful castle-like home known as Knole House near Sevenoaks, Kent in England. A female was born and christened Victoria but would be called Vita to distinguish her from her mother. Eventually, the title and Knole House would pass on to Vita’s cousin Lionel.
Vita excelled in writing. She was a poet and a novelist. Gardening was another passion. Twice, Vita was awarded the prestigious Hawthornden Prize for Imaginative Literature. Among her circle of friends was the writer, Virginia Woolf, who was Vita’s lover for a time.
Like many lesbian or bi-sexual women, Vita married a diplomat, Sir Harold Nicolson. Either before the marriage or during it, both Vita and Harold admitted their love of the same sex. Harold was the third son of a Baroness. He shared Vita’s love of literature and was at various times a diplomat, journalist, broadcaster and Member of Parliament. They had two sons, Nigel and Benedict.
Vita’s Love of Women
Her first lover was a close friend name Rosamund Grosvenor who was four years her senior. Rosamund was aristocratic. They met in school when Vita was seven and Rosamund was eleven. They shared a governness and as they grew up, so did they grow to love one anothter. Vita called Rosamund “Roddie.”
Vita Able to Control Her Emotions
Vita was able to control her emotions and is quoted as saying, “”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,” she admits in her journal, but she saw no real conflict: “I really was innocent.” Rosamund was invited to the Sackville’s villa in Monte Carlo and she also stayed with Vita in France.
Vita wrote in her diary, “I love her so much.” Upon Rosamund’s departure, Vita wrote, “Strange how little I minded [her leaving]; she has no personality, that’s why.” Their secret relationship ended in 1913 when Vita married
Marriage with Lesbians on the Side
Violet Trefusis was born to Alice and George Keppel. Alice was the mistress of King Edward VII. They met when Vita was twelve and Violet was ten. Their sexual relationship began when both were in their teens and continued into their marriages. Without warning, Violet and Vita would elope to France with their husbands in hot pursuit. Vita dressed as a man when she and Violet were in Paris. As aristocrats both were careful to avoid causing scandals. Years later, they were still devoted to one another and deeply in love, but neither left their husbands.
Vita’s affiar with Virginia Woolfe began in the late 1920s. Woolfe wrote one of her famous novels, Orlando. In it the hero changes sex over the centuries. Orlando is Vita.
This work was described by Sackville-West’s son Nigel as “the longest and most charming love-letter in literature.”
Vita had an affair with Henry Lascelles who would marry the oldest Princess of the King and Queen. Hila Mateson, head of the BBC Talks Department was involved with Vita between 1929 and 1931. When it ended with Hilda, Vita was still only 39 years of age.
Vita Sackville-West died at Sissinghurst Castle on 2 June 1962, aged 70. Vita was a rebel in a conservative era. She challenged society to the right to love both men and women.