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Posts Tagged ‘Vita Sackville-West’

Vita and Virginia. That was the focus of pre-conference events on #DallowayDay, the day before the start of the 28th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf.

About 58 Woolf fans boarded a bus at the University of Kent and headed toward two former homes of Vita Sackville-West, where Woolf visited her friend and lover.

We spent the day touring Knole, the ancestral home of the Sackvilles and Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, where Vita and Harold Nicolson created a vast world-renowned garden. The National Trust owns and manages both.

Here are some photos from the beautiful, warm, sun-filled day.

Conference attendees arrive at Knole, originally built as an archbishop’s palace but given to the Sackville family in 1603.

Looking through the Knole gate

View from the rooftop of Knole.

Another rooftop view

The orangerie where the Sackvilles once grew oranges and lemons and later stored their cast-offs. It is being refurbished.

On the Knole tour

View of Sissinghurst from the tower after climbing its 78 steps.

Looking back through the archway as we enter Sissinghurst.

The tower where Vita’s personal study is located. It is filled with the room’s original books and furnishings. A portrait of Virgina sits on the desk.

The white garden, a spot where Vita and Harold liked to sit at night over dinner, with the brightness of the flowers helping to illuminate the night.

Closeup in the white garden

Rooftop view of Sissinghurst Gardens

An unusual black flower in the garden

Pink roses climbing up a sun-washed wall

This unusual flower near the archway prompted visitors to stop to take a photo.

Flowers growing up and around a wall structure.

 

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Due to the high level of interest in the inaugural issue of Feminist Modernist Studies (1:1-2), Routledge has provided free access to the entire first issue for the month of January, according to Editor Cassandra Laity of the University of Tennessee.

Short essays in the volume examine the state of and future of feminist modernist studies in global women writers, “intermodernism,” African-American and queer studies.

Longer essays explore transgender and Vita Sackville West; refugees in Olive Moore; feminist modernism in the worlds of fashion, WWII union organizing, psychoanalysis, sculpture, dance, Afro-Caribbean crossings, and much more.

Get full free access.

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Here’s a new take on Vita and Virginia. Vita Sackville West’s miniature book, written as an accessory for a famous doll house in 1922, is said to have been the inspiration for Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel Orlando.

The story, encapsulated in a volume about the size of a matchbox with just 20 words per tiny page, is titled “A Note of Explanation.” It was one of 200 volumes produced for the library of Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, a replica of an Edwardian residence made as a gift for the consort of George V, according to The Telegraph.

Vita was among the greats

Some of the greatest authors of the day were commissioned to write works for the doll habitat, now on display at Windsor Castle. Besides Vita, they included Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The theme of Vita’s story will sound familiar to anyone who has read Woolf’s pseudo-biography. It tells the tale of an ageless figure who is present for major moments in history. However, in Vita’s version, the ageless figure is a sprite and the history the sprite lives through is fairytale history — from Cinderella’s ball to Sleeping Beauty’s kiss.

Woolf always acknowledged that Orlando had been inspired by Vita and her family, but apparently did not acknowledge that Vita had written a tiny book with a similar theme.

Get the book

A hardback cloth-bound publication of the book, sized 9.8 inches x 6.8 inches, went on sale Oct. 16 by the Royal Collection Trust, according to the BBC. It includes illustrations by Kate Baylay and an afterword by Sackville-West’s biographer, Matthew Dennison, The Guardian reported.

You can order it through the RCT shop. You can also find it on Amazon.

 

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Collecting books was the topic of the “Book Collectors and the Book Trade” panel at the 27th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf Conference in Reading, England, in June. So it’s no wonder my mind clicked into gear when I received an email full of Woolf treats from fellow Woolf hunter, book collector, and seller Jon S. Richardson.

June conference panelists included Leslie Arthur of the William Reese Company in Connecticut on “Bibliographers, Booksellers, and Collectors of the Hogarth Press,” Catherine Hollis of U.C. Berkeley on “The Common Reader and the Book Collector,” and Stephen Barkway of the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain on “Hogarth Press Books,” the story of his personal collection.

Attached to Richardson’s email was the September 2017 list of volumes he has for sale, which include some by or about Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, other Bloomsbury writers, and the extended Stephen clan.

What’s on the list

There are 70 items offered on the current list. Here are just a few:

  • Woolf, Virginia. MRS. DALLOWAY, New York, Harcourt, [1931], 296 pp., 6th impression of the first American edition in deep orange cloth with spine label, VG+ with a pristine spine label, Kirkpatrick A9b, this copy with the exceedingly rare Bell jacket in yellow/black/ cream design, being the 1931 issue of the jacket (with a blurb on To The Lighthouse on rear inner flap), jacket is VG+ with trivial loss to spine ends and two tiny areas of abrasion on spine, price of $2.50 on flap, but no sunning, front inner flap has blurb on Mrs. Dalloway with N.Y. Times review quotation, prior owners’ signatures on flysheet, a most handsome copy of this Bell artwork which is identical to the first edition. $785
  • Quentin Bell & Virginia Nicholson. CHARLESTON-A BLOOMSBURY HOUSE AND GARDEN, New York, Holt, 1997, first American edition, oblong quarto, fine with near fine dust jacket,152 pp., profusely illustrated in color, a room-by-room excursion through this home so central to Bloomsbury outside London. $55
  • Sackville-West, V. CHALLENGE, New York, George H. Doran, [1923], the third impression in RED CLOTH, lettered in black on spine and on upper board, see notes to Cross A9b, VG, 297 pp., dedicated to Violet Trefusis in the Romany dialect they shared, a scarce appearance of this book suppressed in England by Lady Sackville who feared the disclosure of VS-W’s relationship with Violet Trefusis, number of copies unknown. $95
  • [Bell, Grant, Woolf & Bloomsbury] A complete run of THE CHARLESTON NEWSLETTER, Issues Nos. 1-24 (1982-89) + index (all published); published by the Charleston Trust, Richmond, Surrey, edited by Hugh Lee, wrappers, VG, s contained in two volume custom green bindings supplied by Charleston at the time – these bindings are unusual in using a string technique which allows removal but also allows volumes to open nearly flat for ease of copying; an amazing work of scholarship starting with the formation of the Trust to save Charleston, many contributions by Quentin Bell and other Bloomsbury people then alive, many issues have color plates of Bloomsbury art by Bell & Grant especially Charleston and other rooms decorated by them; great sequence of articles on Bloomsbury bookplates with copies, the breadth of the topics is vast, ultimately succeeded by The Charleston Magazine in 1990; scarce in the complete set and an essential Bloomsbury reference source as much of this material (from original Bloomsbury members then still alive) exists only here. $485

Background on the Woolf hunters

According to “Woolf Hunters,” a 2010 article in the Harvard Magazine, Richardson founders Jon and harbor books screenshotMargaret Richardson have made hunting down the works of Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group their mission since opening York Harbor Books in Maine more than 20 years ago.

To receive your own list, contact Jon S. Richardson Rare Books at yorkharborbooks@aol.com.

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Actors have been chosen for the roles of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West for the upcoming film Vita and Virginia, according to The Guardian.

The part of Woolf will be played by French actress, Eva Green, and the role of Seckville-West will be played by English actress, Gemma Arterton.

Both Green and Arterton have appeared in several major motion pictures, and both have experience playing “Bond Girls” in James Bond films.

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Actress Eva Green will play Woolf (image via Pinterest).

Eva Green has appeared in many films including Dark Shadows, 300, and recently, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

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Actress Gemma Arterton will play Sackville-West (image via BBC).

Gemma Arterton has also appeared in many films including Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Byzantium, and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Harper’s Bazaar has created side-by-side images of the actresses and of their subjects for a visual analysis:

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Green and Woolf (image via Harper’s Bazaar).

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Arterton and Sackville-West (image via Harper’s Bazaar).

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9780374172459_p0_v1_s192x300A new book by the granddaughter of Woolf’s friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West, recalls the family history of the maternal side of the Nicholson family. Juliet Nicolson, the granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson and the daughter of Nigel Nicolson, has written a new biography titled, A House Full of Daughters: A Memoir of Seven Generations, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, which will be released on June 14, 2016.

This biography focuses on multiple generations of the women of Nicolson’s family. The story begins on her great-great grandmother, Pepita Duran, who was famous for her beauty and dancing, and ends of Nicolson’s own granddaughter, Imogen.

The Guardian calls Nicolson’s book, “a troubling, entertaining tale” and informs us that the biography doesn’t provide readers with much new information on Vita:

There is not much new that Nicolson can add to Vita’s life – her love for Knole and sense of loss when a cousin inherited it, her affairs with women and her marriage to Harold Nicolson and of course their creation of Sissinghurst. But somehow that makes the story of Juliet’s mother, Philippa, even more fascinating. While everybody was obsessed, Nicolson writes, with recording and recount everything that has happened on her father’s side of the family, no one cared much about the maternal line, the Tennyson d’Eyncourts. There are no diaries, few photographs, and whenever Philippa talked about her upbringing “we yawned”, Nicolson admits.

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A visual timeline of Nicolson’s family from The Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail emphasizes some tawdry aspects of the book, which reveals, “extraordinary secrets of a dynasty blighted by booze and scandalous sex.” From The Daily Mail review:

These days if you visit the garden at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, you find what its guardians the National Trust want you to see: the stunning flowers and plants and hedges put there by Vita Sackville-West, the bohemian poet and novelist who created the garden in the Thirties.

Go back a few decades, however, and you’d have found something rather different: Sackville-West herself, dead drunk and passed out in the flower beds. On several occasions, the staff had to return her to the house in a wheelbarrow.

The Telegraph calls the book, “exceptionally moving” in their review:

Alcohol, as the narrative’s final bravura section shows, was the dark thread linking mothers to daughters throughout this gilded tale of life in magnificent houses. Nicolson’s anger, tenderness and insight have resulted in an exceptionally moving book.

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Juliet Nicolson, Vita Scakville-West’s granddaughter.

Juliet Nicolson will read from her new book in Southampton, New York on Friday, June 17, 2016 at 7pm at BookHampton located at 93 Main Street, Southhampton, NY 11968.

 

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Eileen Atkins and Vanessa Redgrave in the 1994 production of “Vita and Virginia”

Mirror Productions will soon start shooting a new film about Virginia Woolf called Vita and Virginia. The film is an adaptation of the play “Vita and Virginia” written by Dame Eileen Atkins, who also wrote the screenplay for this upcoming film. Shooting is set to being this fall and Dutch filmmaker Sacha Polak is set to direct.

The film will focus on the passionate relationship between Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, who was a celebrated poet and gardener, and is well known as being Woolf’s lover. From Mirror Productions:

Virginia and Vita’s bond continues to live on in Woolf’s canonical literature, which enjoys even more popularity today than in her lifetime. Vita and Virginia is a timeless story, told in an exciting contemporary style, about two women who smashed through social barriers to find solace in forbidden connection.

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Sacha Polak will direct the upcoming “Vita and Virginia” film.

Sacha Polak, director of the film Hemel (2012) and the documentary New Boobs (2013), believes that being a Dutch director, and not an English director, gives her a unique view as an “outsider” of the English literary community. From ScreenDaily.com:

“I think it is really good that – for this project – I am an outsider and I can look on it in a fresh way,” said Polak.

“I have the feeling that in England, everybody has a strong opinion about Virginia Woolf. Either they love her of they think that the best thing she ever did was commit suicide. I am learning every day to love her more and to be more intrigued by her.”

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Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf in “The Hours”

English actress Romola Garai will play Sackville-West. While the part of Virginia Woolf has yet to be cast, producers plan to present viewers with a different interpretation of Woolf than the famous portrayal of the author by Nicole Kidman in the 2002 film The Hours. From ScreenDaily.com:

Polak insists that her film’s Woolf won’t be the “gloomy” and “depressing” figure with the prosthetic nose played by Nicole Kidman in The Hours.

“We are keen on showing another Virginia Woolf, a funny one and one that was really lively.”

Read more about this upcoming film here.

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