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Vita Sackville-West, infamous lover of Virginia Woolf

Are we positive she was actually born female? She was far more masculine looking than Woolf even. In virtually ever photo I've ever seen of her, she absolutely looks like a man in drag.

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by Anonymousreply 9205/26/2020

She also happened to be 6 feet tall

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by Anonymousreply 105/21/2020

I think she's stunning.

by Anonymousreply 205/21/2020

She was clearly male.

by Anonymousreply 305/21/2020

When they met, she was much more famous than Woolf was--she won a huge prize in the 1922 for her long poem "The Land," and her novels were bestsellers. Woolf's were not bestsellers until the 1927 "Orlando," her novel about Sackville-West and her androgynous appeal (wherein the central eponymous character who is based on VSW lives for 300 years, and changes sex midway through the novel).

She had an amazing life. She was born the only child of one of the oldest baronetcies in England, the Sackville-Wests. Had she been born male she would have one day inherited the largest house in England, the 365-room Tudor manor home Knole. But she had to see it pass on to her father's closest male heir, a cousin, when he died (it was entailed with the baronetcy, which could only pass to a male heir). So she and her husband Harold Nicolson (they had a lavender marriage, although she bore him two sons) one day moved to the remains of another Tudor castle, Sissinghurst, and made it livable, and in the process created one of the most famous gardens in the UK.

by Anonymousreply 405/21/2020

She does look masculine but she appears to have been a legitimate bio female - as she did not inherit, and she bore two children.

by Anonymousreply 505/21/2020

Noel Coward thought her husband Harold was the wimpiest wimp who ever wimped.

by Anonymousreply 605/21/2020

she would have been a DLer

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by Anonymousreply 705/21/2020

Vita had a very long running affair with Violet Trefusis, Great Aunt to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

Glad to see some Bloomsbury buffs here.

by Anonymousreply 805/21/2020

R5 I did not know she had children—that changes things I suppose. I read a number of Virginia Woolf novels in college, including Orlando, and remember learning that Woolf based that character on Vita, but it was only recently that I came across a photo of her that I was struck by just how masculine she actually looked—to the point that I was not convinced she wasn't male. It is startling how much she looks like a man in drag.

by Anonymousreply 905/22/2020

Looks OK to me . . .

by Anonymousreply 1005/22/2020

And once she ran for President of the US

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by Anonymousreply 1105/22/2020

I totally forgot that Virginia Woolf liked pussy.

by Anonymousreply 1205/22/2020

There would have been no better custodian for glorious Knole house, and the fact that she was skipped over had considerable impact against primogeniture.

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by Anonymousreply 1305/22/2020

Are we sure that "she" actually gave birth? Because that absolutely looks like a man in a dress.

by Anonymousreply 1405/23/2020

She looks like Eric Idle in the OP’s photo. I would have been inconsolable if I’d been passed over and lost out on Knole, she would have been a wonderful caretaker of that spectacular house.

by Anonymousreply 1505/23/2020

I believe that's Steve Coogan in drag, OP.

by Anonymousreply 1605/23/2020

Is that Geoffrey Rush in the stage adaptation of The Danish Girl?

by Anonymousreply 1705/23/2020

It's obviously Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins.

by Anonymousreply 1805/23/2020

Is that cane face?

by Anonymousreply 1905/23/2020

[quote]I totally forgot that Virginia Woolf liked pussy.

Did you not watch Hours where gay men commit suicide and lesbians inherit the earth?

by Anonymousreply 2005/23/2020

Wha you talkin bou Willy? All english women look like her, mannish.

by Anonymousreply 2105/23/2020

Why'd they all look like Hugh Grant tho?

by Anonymousreply 2205/23/2020

R22 because English toffs emerge from a frightfully small gene pool. One might even call it a pond.

by Anonymousreply 2305/23/2020

Well she never ate MY pussy.

Of course, neither did Tom.

by Anonymousreply 2405/23/2020

Isn't "comedian" Miranda Hart kind of like this as well? This six-foot-plus, hulking presence?

by Anonymousreply 2505/23/2020

Gorgeous woman!

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by Anonymousreply 2605/23/2020

Never grows old.

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by Anonymousreply 2705/23/2020

R26 That's a guy.

by Anonymousreply 2805/23/2020

[quote] because English toffs emerge from a frightfully small gene pool. One might even call it a pond.

Did they all emerge from a Liverpuddle?

by Anonymousreply 2905/23/2020

R14, her parents would not have covered up her being male as they would have wanted a son to inherit the estate. She just had very masculine features.

by Anonymousreply 3005/23/2020

Virginia said Vita "writes with a pen of brass".

Her fiction is conventional, self-obsessed and not very readable.

Vita is most interesting in that she inflamed Virginia— until Virginia lost interest.

by Anonymousreply 3105/23/2020

She looks like Oscar Wilde. The Brits had some great gays and lesbians in the early 20th century. They were really cutting edge.

by Anonymousreply 3205/23/2020

R32 But look at Britain now! How did it lose its mojo. It seems intent on being a middling range power.

by Anonymousreply 3305/23/2020

A.) The hat on the woman on the right in R1's photo is epic. (Thanks for including such a large photo.)

B.) She should be sainted for what she gave the nation in Sissinghurst. Simply astounding.

by Anonymousreply 3405/23/2020

[quote] It seems intent on being a middling range power.

How are you even thinking in those terms? Did you know that this global pandemic is shifting ranges and powers?

by Anonymousreply 3505/23/2020

She did bear a certain resemblance to Rrose Sélavy, though not quite as masculine.

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by Anonymousreply 3605/23/2020

Here is Janet McTeer and Cathryn Harrison as Vita and Violet in Portrait of a Marriage.

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by Anonymousreply 3705/23/2020

The fastidious Virginia refused to kiss Vita because Vita's moustache was too thick.

by Anonymousreply 3805/23/2020

"Here is Janet McTeer and Cathryn Harrison as Vita and Violet in Portrait of a Marriage."

That movie is beyond fabulous.

by Anonymousreply 3905/24/2020

R39 It wasn't a movie. It was a rather cheap 1980s-style mini-series which vulgarised the characters and the very constrained milieu in which they lived.

Vita was an obsessed selfish woman and husband Harold was trying to keep his private life private as he struggled to advance his career in British diplomacy and parliament.

The young Harold was rather handsome but the actor portraying him in this sensationalised, cheap show was a broad-faced hack who now specialises in playing Irishmen and drunks.

And the actress playing the difficult Vita is now more famous for displaying her frighteningly-huge, melon-sized bosoms at any opportunity.

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by Anonymousreply 4005/24/2020

My favorite fact about her life is that she would get so drunk in the Sissinghurst gardens in her later years that the gardeners would have to sometimes wheel her back to the main building (where the living quarters are) in a wheelbarrow,.

by Anonymousreply 4105/24/2020

R39, You might be interested in the movie "Daphne" , though it may be difficult to find. Janet McTeer plays Gertrude Lawrence. It would be worth the time to track it down.

R40, Portrait of a Marriage, the cheap movie featuring an actress with garish titties, is based on a best selling book by Harold Nicolson's son Nigel. It's hardly vulgar; but you knew that, and needed to lob insults at people you'll never know. Drunk Irishmen, indeed.

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by Anonymousreply 4205/24/2020

Portrait of a Marriage by Vita and Harold Nicholson's son Nigel Nicolson is a fantastic book.

by Anonymousreply 4305/24/2020

Virginia sounds so different from how I imagined she'd sound. From having read her novels, essays and diaries - not to mention her suicide and the general myth around her - I had an image of her as being more aloof, intellectual, perhaps colder, sadder, more contemplative, but she sounds warm and alive, concerned with engaging and entertaining her audience.

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by Anonymousreply 4405/24/2020

Vita sounds very posh.

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by Anonymousreply 4505/24/2020

Thanks for the recommendation, R42.

"...the actor portraying him in this sensationalised, cheap show was a broad-faced hack who now specialises in playing Irishmen and drunks."

I honestly don't give a rat's ass what he "now specializes in," R40; all I know is that David Haig was excellent in "Portrait of a Marriage."

by Anonymousreply 4605/24/2020

[quote] Vita sounds very posh.

You can't get much posher in the UK than the Sackville-Wests. They go incredibly far back.

by Anonymousreply 4705/24/2020

R44, R45 We have these recordings because lush Vita was keen on this nubile staff woman at the BBC named Hilda Matheson.

You can find out more about her on Google. You can find out much more about Harold, Vita and Virginia by actually reading their writings rather than depend on second-hand sensationalist stuff which pander to 21st century taste. Harold wrote 3 volumes of diaries. And Vita and Virginia wrote around 50 books between them.

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by Anonymousreply 4805/24/2020

Of course she was biologically female!

Do you think anyone as butch as her would have lived as a woman, if they had other options?

by Anonymousreply 4905/24/2020

This book was beautiful. Also "The Letter to Vita from Violet" is outstanding . There are no surviving letters from Vita to Violet, because Violet's husband, Dennis Trefusis destroyed them in a jealous rage.

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by Anonymousreply 5005/24/2020

Was Vita another of those Flappers who flew aeroplanes in the 1920s?

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by Anonymousreply 5105/24/2020

The Brits are all inbred, what do you expect from an isolated islsnd. Hence the rotten teeth and the alcoholism which if often inherited.

by Anonymousreply 5205/24/2020

She just looks English.

by Anonymousreply 5305/24/2020

Vita invented a tale that she had Roma blood. She was fascinated by the gypsies and the trope of a carefree, vagabond existence. After spending time with gypsies, she realized they also lived in poverty and she didn't care for this.

Her first great love as a teen was Rosamund Grosvenor (the Grosvenors are a very old noble family, with ties to King William of Normandy). In the 1600's, the family acquired 500 acres of prime real estate in Belgravia and nearby, creating fabulous wealth that remains today.I believe Rosamund broke it off with Vita when Vita married.

by Anonymousreply 5405/24/2020

Also wanted to add that Henry Lascelles was in love with Vita and wanted to marry her. They became lovers. After she rejected him, he went on to marry Princess Mary.

by Anonymousreply 5505/24/2020

Virginia at the very first meeting on Monday, 19 February, noted that Vita is ‘a pronounced Sapphist and may have an eye on me —old that I am’.

Next month on the 17th she wrote ‘both Harold and Vita were incurably stupid’

On Saturday 5th of July she said ‘all these ancestors and centuries, & silver & gold have bred a perfect body’. Vita is ‘stag like, or racehorse like, save for the face, which pouts, & has no very sharp brain. But as a body hers is perfection. So many rare and curious objects hit one’s brain like pellets which perhaps may unfold later’.

by Anonymousreply 5605/24/2020

1927 Milan ,

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.

by Anonymousreply 5705/24/2020

There's a lovely inter-generational link between two concurrent threads.

Vanessa Redgrave's father met Virginia Woolf in the 30s. And he named his first-born after Virginia's sister—

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by Anonymousreply 5805/24/2020

Yes R58, Vanessa was lovely; but as filled with uncertainty as her sister.

Married to Clive, but forever chasing after Duncan Grant, homosexual at large.

by Anonymousreply 5905/24/2020

Virginia and Vita and (to a lesser extent, Vanessa) were wordsmiths.

Their profession was words. English words. The usefulness and beauty of English words.

And I can't help but notice the beauty in their names, the common alliterative letter 'V' and the beauty in the surnames 'Redgrave' and 'Olivier' and in the Christian name 'Orlando'.

I think the surname 'Woolf' is also quite beautiful (even though she only adopted it through marriage— while not quite liking her new in-laws).

by Anonymousreply 6005/24/2020

Interesting fact: the name "Vanessa" was entirely made up by the English poet and novelist Jonathan Swift as a private way to refer in his poems to his lover, Esther Vanhomrigh. He took his nickname for her, "Essa," and the first syllable of her last name, "Van-," and reversed their positions.

by Anonymousreply 6105/24/2020

(I hope some crazy astrological Rachel Dolezal type won't intrude here to inform us all that the letter 'V' is a symbol of the female lady part)

by Anonymousreply 6205/24/2020

So why did a "pronounced sapphist" like Vita get married?

Societal of family pressure? Money? Actually bi? Found a nice man to lavender up with?

by Anonymousreply 6305/24/2020

"having all these dissatisfied female relatives around might be a great idea. "


Murial, when are you going to let us edit our typos?

by Anonymousreply 6405/24/2020

I’m definitely getting an Eric Idle Monty Python vibe from this photo.

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by Anonymousreply 6505/24/2020

R63 Before Vita turned into "pronounced sapphist" she was a very ANGRY little girl called Victoria.

Little Victoria hated her awful parents— she would stamp along the corridors saying the most horrid things about them— but she was also immensely angry that she was born into the wrong body.

Because she was a girl she had to marry weedy Harold and have a small half-castle called SIssinghurst. But if she was born a boy she would have inherited a proper castle called Knole.

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by Anonymousreply 6605/24/2020

Here's Sissinghurst, Not exactly a gardener's shack.

So why DID Vita marry a man?

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by Anonymousreply 6705/24/2020

^ Most of Sissinghurst has been demolished.

Vita had her writing room on the top floor of the tower but it's pain for an old lady to climb that every time the Muse calls.

The family had to live in the low section which is a perimeter to the garden.

Husband Harold was getting steady income as a public servant. Virginia supplemented her income by doing lots of reviewing. And Virginia was making decent income by the 30s.

Vita's obsessive hankering for the past made her and her grandiloquent 19th century novels seem very old fashioned. Virginia said Vita "writes with a pen of brass" and almost all her stodgy stuff is out of print.

I still haven't bothered to look at her TV movie—

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by Anonymousreply 6805/24/2020

Thank you for dropping that charming tidbit into the thread R61.

by Anonymousreply 6905/24/2020

Vita married a man because she was required to do so as she was not going to inherit her father's estate and the monies associated with the estate. The marriage was open and her husband had many affairs with men. That is the main reason the marriage worked. Plus Vita got to live in Constantinople, where her husband was stationed as a diplomat, and she loved living there.

by Anonymousreply 7005/25/2020

[quote]Found a nice man to lavender up with?

Yes, as was already explained earlier in the thread.

by Anonymousreply 7105/25/2020

R44, IIRC from Hermione Lee's bio, Woolf's friends thought she was vivacious and funny and had a wicked sense of humor. Quite a contrast with the deeply introspective, turbulent and melancholy texture of her writing.

by Anonymousreply 7205/25/2020

We should all be grateful to Hilda Matheson, r48. Vita and Harold did a lot of radio shows together, I believe.

I do read Virginia and Vita's own writings and have probably never read any book on them written in the 21st century.

by Anonymousreply 7305/25/2020


Do you a favourite Virginia?

And a favourite Vita?

by Anonymousreply 7405/25/2020

[quote]her parents would not have covered up her being male as they would have wanted a son to inherit the estate. She just had very masculine features.

Could just be something up with her (or his in that case) genitals, you know like the famous runner. It happens. Would make her losing her inheritance even more tragic. Not possible if she bore those children of course... but damn if she doesn't look like a man..

by Anonymousreply 7505/25/2020

I adore the photo from R1.

That’s a woman. I read an article in National Geographic or a publication in that vein, where the author wrote about a study that showed women were very unattractive at the turn of the century and shortly thereafter, and that the advent of plastic surgery, as well as hormones in our dairy, were believed to be responsible for why women became more attractive, as well as more “stereotypically”, what we now consider to be of a “feminine” appearance. And even then, the article cited that plastic surgery revolutionized it all.

Naturally “pretty” wasn’t as typical as one might think, back then. And even now, if you procreate with a beautiful woman who became beautiful under the knife, it usually shows up on the kid’s face.

The exception to that is if one parent is naturally very attractive, or if both parents are equally unattractive, but not physically or genetically deformed. Ugly people make some GORGEOUS kids. But it has to be the right kind of ugly. I’ve seen it, many times.

Some pretty gals 👇🏽

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by Anonymousreply 7605/25/2020

The women back then were much taller, specifically in Europe. Some of them look like they had to be cross dressers, because they’re so masculine on appearance. But most of these women were indeed, unattractive, talk, masculine in appearance, women.

Fantastic clothing, btw. One of the best eras for fashion.

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by Anonymousreply 7705/25/2020

Vanessa was hardly a failure with Duncan Grant, r59 - she had a child with him and lived with him for 40 years.

Another of the more mundane things that tend to be forgotten is that Vanessa and Grant had a successful interior design business together.

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by Anonymousreply 7805/25/2020

Because that's what one did r63, especially one of her class and status. And, yes, Vita did find a nice man to lavender up with - she and Harold Nicolson genuinely loved each other, even if that may only have been platonically.

by Anonymousreply 7905/25/2020

Vita's grandson Adam Nicolson is one of the best sources of juicy gay gossip about his grandparents.

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by Anonymousreply 8005/25/2020

r76 What Kind of alternate universe shit is that? I don't even know anyone who had plastic surgery. I can think of a girl from School who had her ears pinned back... Most people are way too poor for plastic surgery. Still most or at least half of the population is rather pretty in youth. (Maybe not in England?)

by Anonymousreply 8105/25/2020

She was afraid of Virginia's Woolf-man.

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by Anonymousreply 8205/25/2020

The Nicolson's marriage mustn't have always been platonic; they had two sons.

by Anonymousreply 8305/25/2020

Maybe they did their duty and thought of England, maybe they just had a turkey baster.

by Anonymousreply 8405/25/2020

The 2018 film Vita and Virginia explores their relationship. Isabella Rossellini appears as Vita's mother IIRC. I wish these films would include more about Harrold and his public and private lives, his affairs, etc

The casting is off IMO but worth a watch nevertheless.

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by Anonymousreply 8505/25/2020

R76 A marriage where the partners are cousins was common in earlier times but inbreeding produces ugly children or masculine daughters. Vita was a child of cousins, Victoria Sackville-West and Lionel Sackville-West, 3rd Baron Sackville.

It's possible for ugly people to make gorgeous children if the parents came from very different gene pools.

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by Anonymousreply 8605/25/2020

"Vita and Virginia" was made with good intentions, but it was a bizarre movie. Since Elizabeth Debicki (who I will grant you is a fine actress) is 6'2", and Gemma Arterton is 5'7", it was Virginia who towered over Vita rather than vice-versa.

Also, it showed Virginia blossoming with rapture when she has sex with Vita, when according to multiple sources, sex with Vita (as with sex with Leonard) was incredibly traumatic for Virginia Woolf. She tried to have sex with Vita twice, and both times it was a horrorshow--it led to her howling and trembling.

by Anonymousreply 8705/25/2020

[quote]She tried to have sex with Vita twice, and both times it was a horrorshow--it led to her howling and trembling.

Obviously Vita’s cock was too big for her.

by Anonymousreply 8805/25/2020

Yes, R87, sex with Leonard or anyone was 'traumatic'. Her diaries and Hermione Lee's 'forensic' biography say as much.

But I hold the view that Virginia's private life is none of our business!

She displayed her genius in 'Room of One's Own', The Diaries, 'Orlando', the Letters and 'To The Lighthouse'. And that makes her a 20th century genius compared to us —who are mere minions by comparison.

by Anonymousreply 8905/25/2020

Portrait of a Marriage is available free online. I love this series. And I'm a guy.

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by Anonymousreply 9005/25/2020

What source do you have for that, R87? I'm curious, it sounds like something I would want to read.

by Anonymousreply 9105/25/2020

While it’s no Knole, Vita and Harold transformed what was basically a ruin into a charming house, surrounded by one of the great gardens of the world.

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by Anonymousreply 9205/26/2020
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