Sunday, Feb 28th 1927:
(…) does it strike you that one`s friendships are long conversations, perpetually broken off, but always about the same thing with the same person? With Lytton I talk about reading; with Clive about love; with Nessa about people; with Roger about art; with Morgan about writing; with Vita – well, what do I talk about with Vita? Sometimes we snore –
Virginia Woolf met Vita Sackville-West the inspiration for Orlando at a dinner party in 1922. Vita`s awesome reputation as a cross dressing bi-sexual preceded her. She was an aristocrat, a writer, and an avid collector of admirers and lovers: but at first, Virginia was not impressed with her; having in her view, ” all the supple ease of the aristocracy, but not the wit of the artist.”
Despite this scathing opinion, Virginia invited Vita to publish a novel with the Hogarth Press; professional interest turned to friendship, and then transforming into a love affair sometime in 1925 when they stayed together at Vita`s country pile of Long Barn. Virginia was smitten with love……….
“…she shines..with a candle lit radiance, stalking on legs of beech trees, pink glowing, grape clustered, pearl hung. That is the secret of her glamour, I suppose….What is the effect of all this on me? Very mixed.”
Both women were married – Vita being a mother: their husbands; Leonard Woolf, with whom Virginia founded the Hogarth Press, and Vita`s matrimonial ball and chain, Harold Nicolson, knew of the affair, but never appeared to interfere in any way.
Their sexual relationship was intense, deeply felt, sometimes thwarted and fractured and riddled with jealousy, but eventually it fades, as the fierceness of the sun burns out the brightest colours, and settles into a lifelong, constant friendship. How many can truly lay claim to a genuine, loving and trusting friendship with someone who would always be there for you, no matter what the cost to themselves?
Virginia continued to write her letters to Vita – the last just a week before she committed suicide in 1941. Vita responded with a poem which elegantly sums up their mutual love, describing her as………..
“….rich on contradictions, rich in love, who caught her special prey with words of honey and lamp of wit.”
Their deep, and constant love remains immortalized in the letters they sent to each other; and though we all die, the love we hold in our hearts lives on in the world around us, for as Vita wrote of her beloved garden……….
“We are all things, the flower and the tree.
We are the distant landscape and the near.
We are the drought, we are the dew distilled;
The saturated land, the land athirst;
We are the day, the night, the light and the dark;
The waterdrop, the stream; the meadow and the lark.”