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The classic story of the relationship between Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, and a unique portrait of the Bloomsbury Group. The marriage was that between the two writers, Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson and the portrait is drawn partly by Vita herself in an autobiography which she left behind at her death in 1962 and partly by her son, Nigel. It was one of the happiest and strangest marriages there has ever been. Both Vita and Harold were always in love with other people and each gave the other full liberty 'without enquiry or reproach', knowing that their love for each other would be unaffected and even strengthened by the crises which it survived. This account of their love story is now a modern classic.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781857990614
ISBN-10: 1857990617
Format: Paperback
(150mm x 198mm x 33mm)
Pages: 464
Imprint: Weidenfeld & Nicolson History
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 6-May-1993
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions


US Kirkus Review » Nicolson's distillation of the letters between his parents - poet/novelist Vita Sackville-West and diplomat Harold Nicolson - further documents the extraordinary relationship he described in Portrait of a Marriage (1973; to he dramatized on PBS later this year). What do we learn from this intimate dialogue about the marriage that sustained itself from 1913 until Vita's death in 1962, through homosexual affairs and separations extensive enough to produce 10,000 letters? That the bond between Vita and Harold depended on affection, respect, love, and, perhaps above all, on a degree of tolerance and openness - at least on paper - that few couples could handle. Living very much their own lives (she talks about gardens and friends, he about the abdication of the soulless King Edward), they both were devoted to their two sons (though the boys are rarely mentioned), and they cared passionately for Sissinghurst Castle, where they built legendary gardens. Until Harold left the diplomatic corps in 1929, he invigorated the correspondence with eye-witness reports - some witty, others highly serious - from abroad: Constantinople, Berlin, Tehran. Working on the peace treaty in Paris in 1919, Harold describes the Arc de Triomphe after the signing as "black with people watching the cars stream up the Avenue du Bois." The emotional wattage rises on the subject of Vita's notorious affair with Violet Trefusis. "I wish Violet was dead," Harold writes. Later, Vita tells him that "there is lots that is neither good or simple in me, and it is that part which is so tempted." Typically, she ends this letter with, "my darling, my darling, I shall love you till I die." Most interesting is what Vita reveals about her intense relationship with Virginia Woolf ("angel of wit and intelligence"), who recreated Vita in Orlando. A vivid and extensive primary source on private lives - lives whose modernity reveals convention-flouting individuality and speaks much about Britain's upper class and its attitudes and freedoms. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Nigel Nicolson

Nigel Nicolson is the son of the politician, diarist and biographer Harold Nicolson, and the poet and writer Vita Sackville-West who restored Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, now a property of the National Trust. The family were close friends with Virginia and Leonard Woolf. Nicolson was the co-founder of Weidenfeld & Nicolson, was a Conservative MP in the 1950s and is the author of fifteen previous books.

Books By Author Nigel Nicolson

Queen & Us by Nigel Nicolson

The Queen & Us

Paperback / softback, July 2013
Harold Nicolson Diaries by Nigel Nicolson

The Harold Nicolson Diaries

Paperback, October 2005
Vita Sackville-West by Nigel Nicolson

Vita Sackville-West

Paperback, February 2004
Portrait of a Marriage by Nigel Nicolson

Portrait of a Marriage

Paperback, October 1998