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Archive for October 24th, 2014

Vita BiographyA new biography on Vita Sackville-West, Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita Sackville West, by Matthew Dennison is now available in hardback, paperback and as an audiobook.

Vita was a celebrated poet, author and gardener whose love affair with Virginia Woolf is highlighted in Dennison’s biography.

This is the first biography of Vita that has been published in 30 years, and this new piece explores the “triumph and contradictions of Vita’s extraordinary life.”

From HarperCollins Publishers:

Dennison’s “narrative charts a fascinating course from Vita’s lonely childhood at Knole, through her affectionate but ‘open’ marriage to Harold Nicolson (during which both husband and wife energetically pursued homosexual affairs, Vita most famously with Virginia Woolf), and through Vita’s literary successes and disappointments, to the famous gardens the couple created at Sissinghurst.”

Early reviews of this biography are mixed:

Vita and Virginia, 1932

While a review by Gerard Henderson for Express praises Dennison’s treatment of Vita, “Dennison, whose previous work was a biography of another remarkable woman, Queen Victoria, shows true affection and admiration for his latest subject,” Rachel Cooke’s review, featured on The Guardian, challenges this new biography and calls it “deficient.”

Cooke writes: “the information contained in his book is so obviously inadequate, so frequently incomplete. I need give only one example to make the point. What kind of biography of Vita Sackville-West, I wonder, refers to the suicide of Virginia Woolf in a single sentence? The only possible answer is a wholly deficient one. This friendship was one of the most significant of her life.”

The author of this new biography, Matthew Dennison, is the author of several biographies, including one on Queen Victoria.

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