The Honourable Victoria Sackville-West (1892-1962), only child of the 3rd Lord Sackville, wife of Harold Nicolson
(diplomat and man of letters), mother of Benedict Nicolson
(art historian) and Nigel Nicolson
(author, sometime member of parliament and publisher).
She was the author of several books and poems, now mostly unread and out of print. Probably her most famous work is The Land (1926), a long poem which won the Hawthornden Prize, and Pepita (1937), a biography of the Spanish dancer who was her grandfather's mistress and her own grandmother. During her lifetime Sackville-West also achieved fame of a sort as the inspiration for Virginia Woolf's novel Orlando (1928), which sprang out of Sackville-West's onetime love affair and long friendship with Woolf. Illustrations for the book were taken from the paintings at Knole.
Sackville-West was part of the Bloomsbury circle, but despite being close to some of its central figures she preferred to spend time on its fringes only, being less interested in Bloomsbury society and gossip than in writing and gardening. She had spent her childhood at Knole, the family estate in Kent which she loved, and it was her lifelong regret that, not being born a boy, she could not inherit it as it was entailed to the male heirs of the Sackville title. This frustration seems to have cast shadows (of which, however, he seems to have been blissfully unaware) on her relationship with her cousin Eddy Sackville-West, who eventually became the 5th Lord Sackville. In 1930 she bought Sissinghurst, a Tudor castle in Kent, the gardens of which became her main occupation. After her death Sissinghurst passed into the ownership of the National Trust, and is possibly one of their best-known possessions.
Sackville-West resented the contemporary condescending and unserious attitudes towards the achievements of women, and refused to be identified merely as a wife or mother, "Mrs [ later Lady] Nicolson" or "Miss Vita Sackville-West". She saw herself as V. Sackville-West, author and poet. It's therefore ironic that her celebrity nowadays rests mainly upon her association with Virginia Woolf (their correspondence has been published, and a play written about their liaison), and her marriage to Harold Nicolson (their son Nigel has written a book about this subject and has published their letters). A casualty of today's money-spinning Bloomsbury industry.