“Look here Vita – throw over your man, and we`ll go to Hampton Court and dine on the river together and walk in the garden in the moonlight and come home late and have a bottle of wine and get tipsy, and I`ll tell you all the things I have in my head, millions, myriads – They won`t stir by day, only by dark on the river. Think of that. Throw over your man, I say, and come.”

Virginia Woolf`s exquisite 1927 letter to Vita Sackville-West shows that she had fallen madly in love. It`s no coincidence that the gender bending character in Woolf`s novel Orlando, is thought to be based upon Vita and the whole love affair. Nigel Nicolson, Vita Sackville-West`s son describes the book as “the longest and most charming love-letter in literature,” and who can argue; there are those who assert that Orlando is “chick-lite” compared to some of her other more highly thought of novels, but when you realize the emotional baggage attached to it`s creation, it could perhaps be thought of as Virginia`s most personal work.

Virginia`s delicate missive was preceded by one from her lover Vita, sent from Milan on January 21st that same year. It lacks Virginia`s elegant, prose which flits effortlessly like a fire fly on magic mushrooms from thought to paper, but is no less beautiful because of it`s passionate, unguarded, heart felt words.

“I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful love letter in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. You, with all your undumb letters, would never write so elementary a phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn`t even feel it. And yet I believe you`ll be sensitive of a little gap. But you`d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it should lose a little of it`s reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is really just a squeal of pain. It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things. Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan`t make you love me anymore by giving myself away like this – But oh my dear, I can`t be clever and stand-offish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly. You can have no idea how stand-offish I can be with people I don`t love. I have brought it to a fine art. But you have broken down my defences. And I don`t really resent it.”


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