“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, in a quite simple desperate human way.”
In 1922, the relatively unknown writer Virginia Woolf met the popular author, aristocrat—and notorious Sapphist—Vita Sackville-West. Virginia didn’t think much of Vita’s conversation, but she did think very highly of her legs. In her diary she wrote: “But could I ever know her?” It was to be the start of nearly 20 years of correspondence, flirtation, literary inspiration, and deep friendship. Virginia would write her most playful novel, Orlando, for and about Vita, and their close bond would end only with Virginia’s tragic death in 1941.
Here is the true love story of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, told through selected letters and diary entries, allowing us to hear these women’s complex and constantly changing feelings for each other in their own words. Passionate, witty, and lyrical, their writing gives us a vivid sense of their extraordinary lives: from Vita’s travels across the globe with her foreign diplomat husband, to Virginia’s gossip about parties with the Bloomsbury set; from their shared love of dogs and gardens, to their grief and fear as war breaks out across Europe.
These letters bring to life a relationship that—even a hundred years later—feels radical, relatable, and vital.