Virginia Woolf's Description of Vita Sackville-West

Updated August 12, 1997
Created August 12, 1997

21 December 1925-A Writer's Diary

"Vita for three days at Long Barn, from which Leonard and I returned yesterday. These Sapphists love women; friendship is never untinged with amorosity. In short, my fears and refrainings, my 'impertinence,' my usual self-consciousness in intercourse with people who mayn't want me and so on--were all, as L. said, sheer fudge; and partly thanks to him (he made me write) I wound up this wounded and stricken year in great style. I like her and being with her and the splendour--she shines in the grocer's shop in Sevenoaks with a candle lit radiance, stalking on legs like beech trees, pink glowing, grape clustered, pearl hung. That is the secret of her glamour, I suppose. Anyhow she found me incredibly dowdy. No woman cared less for personal appearance. No one put on things in the way I did. Yet so beautiful, etc. What is the effect of all this on me? Very mixed. There is her maturity and full breastedness; her being so much in full sail on the high tides, where I am coasting down backwaters; her capacity I mean to take the floor in any company, to represent her country, to visit Chatsworth to control silver, servants, chow dogs; her motherhood (but she is a little cold and off-hand with her boys); her being in short (what I have never been) a real woman. Then there is some voluptuousness about her; the grapes are ripe; and not reflective. No. In brain and insight she is not as highly organised as I am. But then she is aware of this and so lavishes on me the maternal protection which, for some reason, is what I have always most wished from everyone. What L. gives me, and Nessa gives me and Vita, in her more clumsy external way, tries to give me. For of course, mingled with all this glamour, grape clusters and pearl necklaces, there is something loose fitting. How much, for example, shall I really miss her when she is motoring across the desert?"

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