Virginia and Vita loved their husbands, and they also loved each other.
This book is a selection of letters that they exchanged, and some extracts from their diaries which offered some additional interesting insights. Their correspondence was highly intellectual, yet also so intimate that at times I felt like I was intruding. I learned lots of new English words; with almost every sentence containing one I had never heard of before.
I was pleasantly surprised to find pictures of both of them on the inside flaps of the book cover, along with two samples of their letters.
It was simply beautiful. What I loved most was the evocative writing style of these two incredible writers, which left me so motivated to read more of their works.
Whilst reading, I often wondered how they would have written to each other had they had Whatsapp. Would they have used the same narrative force? I also wondered if they ever thought that, a century later, a vast and curious audience would be reading their letters.
As I read the last phase of the book, I felt a painful longing, the kind that comes from missing someone you love. And I cried.
What a book. What a treasure it is.
Title: Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West: Love Letters
Authors: Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, Introduction by Alison Bechdel
Year First Published: 2021
‘I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone. I just miss you…’
At a dinner party in 1922, Virginia Woolf met the renowned author, aristocrat – and sapphist – Vita Sackville-West. Virginia wrote in her diary that she didn’t think much of Vita’s conversation, but she did think very highly of her legs. It was to be the start of almost twenty years of flirtation, friendship, and literary collaboration. Their correspondence ended only with Virginia’s tragic death in 1941.
Intimate and playful, these selected letters and diary entries allow us to hear these women’s constantly changing feelings for each other in their own words. Eavesdrop on the affair that inspired Virginia to write her most fantastical novel, Orlando, and glimpse into their extraordinary lives: from Vita’s travels across the globe, to Virginia’s parties with the Bloomsbury set; from their shared love of dogs and nature, to their grief at the beginning of the Second World War. Discover a relationship that – even a hundred years later – feels radical and relatable.