Books

Heritage

Vita Sackville-West

Ruth Pennistan is a farmer’s daughter, born and brought up in Kent. But her dark hair and eyes belie a forgotten ancestry – a Spanish gypsy grandmother and a passionate inheritance. Malory, the rather strait-laced guest of the family, falls head over heels in love, even whilst Ruth becomes trapped against her will in a drama of love and tragedy with another man. Vita Sackville-West’s first heroine echoes the passions and contradictions of the author's own life.

Family History

Vita Sackville-West

Evelyn, aged thirty-nine, is an attractive widow living an irreproachable life. Then she meets Miles, fifteen years her junior, and falls passionately in love. But both lovers have strong personalities and passion does not equal happiness. Evelyn, deeply jealous and conventional is shocked at her lover's casual ways and his insistence on working all day. Miles’s love for Evelyn is real but he cannot devote himself wholly to her whims. Vita Sackville-West collides attitudes to work, sex and society in the changing world of the early 1930s.

Grand Canyon

Vita Sackville-West

The Second World War has been won - by the Germans. Only America still stands protected by a precarious promise of peace from the Reich. Lester and Helen, strangers staying at the Grand Canyon Hotel in Arizona are united by their memories of a lost England. When the fragile peace shatters, only Lester and Helen can take charge and lead their fellow guests into an uncertain future.

Seducers in Ecuador & The Heir

Vita Sackville-West

Seducers in Ecuador is the story of Arthur Lomax, every bit the English gentleman in his white ducks and solar topee, enjoying the pleasures of an Egyptian cruise. But with the addition of a pair of blue spectacles to the outfit, Lomax's entire world changes - to alarming, deadly effect.

Peregrine Chase in The Heir is the manager of a Wolverhampton insurance company. But when he inherits a moated Tudor house called Blackboys his resistance to change dissolves in the face of its beauty. Under the spell of house and garden, Peregrine's life - and heart - are transformed.

Saint Joan of Arc

Vita Sackville-West

The strange story of Joan of Arc, the obscure peasant girl who became the national saint of France, is retold in this celebrated, classic biography. Saint Joan lives for the reader on every page, as a shepherd girl in a remote part of fifteenth-century rural France, visited by visions of saints and angels; as the avenging virgin who regenerated the soul of a torn and wretched France and led her troops to victory; and as a condemned heretic and witch, burned at the stake and, five hundred years later, canonised as a saint.

The Eagle and the Dove

Vita Sackville-West

The two saints whose lives Vita Sackville-West contrasts in this double biography were recorded by very different epithets: 'the great' and 'the little'. Both women were Carmelites, both canonised and both shared the same name. But whilst Teresa of Avila was aristocratic, intellectual, vigorous and humorous, a Spanish woman of the sixteenth century, Thérèse of Lisieux was a guileless and sentimental figure of the French bourgeoisie. Teresa, the great mystic, is the patron saint of Spain; Thérèse, the humble nun, is probably the most beloved saint in the entire Calendar. The extraordinary rise of the cult of both women is scrutinised.

Pepita

Vita Sackville-West

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JULIET NICOLSON

Vita Sackville-West was an extraordinary woman from a long line of extraordinary women – this book tells their stories. Her grandmother Pepita, daughter of an old-clothes pedlar, made her fortune as a dancer and had a scandalous affair with an English diplomat. Their illegitimate daughter Victoria, Vita's mother, spent her childhood hidden in a convent but went on to be the glamorous mistress of Knole, one of the grandest old houses in England. Vita brings her legendary wit, passion and eccentricity to this colourful family portrait.

All Passion Spent

Vita Sackville-West

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JOANNA LUMLEY

When the great statesman Lord Slane dies, everyone assumes his dutiful wife will slowly fade away, the paying guest of each of her six children. But Lady Slane surprises everyone by escaping to a rented house in Hampstead where she revels in her new freedom, revives youthful ambitions and gathers some very unsuitable companions. Irreverent, entertaining and insightful, this is a tale of the unexpected joys of growing older.

The Edwardians

Vita Sackville-West

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY KATE WILLIAMS

Sebastian is young, handsome and romantic, the heir to a vast and beautiful English country estate. He is a fixed feature in the eternal round of lavish parties, intrigues and traditions at the cold, decadent heart of Edwardian high society. Everyone knows the role he must play, but Sebastian isn't sure he wants the part. Position, privilege and wealth are his, if he can resist the lure of a brave new world.

Biography

Victoria Mary Sackville-West, known as Vita, was born in 1892 at Knole in Kent, the only child of aristocratic parents. In 1913 she married diplomat Harold Nicolson, with whom she had two sons and travelled extensively before settling at Kent’s Sissinghurst Castle in 1930, where she devoted much of her time to creating its now world famous garden. Throughout her life Sackville-West had a number of other relationships with both men and women, and her unconventional marriage would later become the subject of a biography written by her son Nigel Nicolson. Though she produced a substantial body of work, amongst which are writings on travel and gardening, Sackville-West is best known for her novels The Edwardians (1930) and All Passion Spent (1931), and for the pastoral poem The Land (1926), which was awarded the prestigious Hawthornden Prize. Sackville-West died on 2 June 1962 at her Sissinghurst home, aged 70.