Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita Sackville-West (Paperback)Matthew Dennison (author)
- In stock online
Aristocrat, literary celebrity, `Rose Queen', devoted wife, lesbian, recluse, iconoclast - Vita Sackville-West was many things, but she was never straightforward. Her life is re-told here in a dazzling new biography.
In this stunning portrait of Vita Sackville-West, Matthew Dennison traces the triumph and contradictions of Vita's extraordinary life. His narrative charts a fascinating course from Vita's lonely childhood at Knole, through her affectionate but `open' marriage to Harold Nicolson (during which both husband and wife energetically pursued homosexual affairs, Vita most famously with Virginia Woolf), and through Vita's literary successes and disappointments, to the famous gardens the couple created at Sissinghurst.
The book tells how, from her privileged world of the aristocracy, Sackville-West brought her penchant for costume, play-acting and rebellion to the artistic vanguard of modern Britain.
Dennison is the acclaimed author of many books including a biography of Queen Victoria. Here, in the first biography to be written of Vita for thirty years, he reveals the whole story and gets behind `the beautiful mask' of Vita's public achievements to reveal an often troubled persona which heroically resisted compromise on every level. Drawing on wide-ranging sources and the extensive letters that sustained her marriage, this is a compelling story of love, loss and jealousy, of high-life and low points, of binding affection and illicit passion - a portrait of an extraordinary, 20th-century life.
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 300 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 24 mm
BOOK OF THE YEAR as chosen by:
'Dennison captures both Vita's irresistible charm and her selfishness. Like his subject, he is a natural storyteller, and his impeccable scholarship never weighs down his lively narrative' Independent
`Brave man to take on the biography of Vita, and he has brought it off superbly ... It studies and reveals this extraordinary woman as well as could possibly be. A fine achievement' Spectator, Susan Hill
`Astute and engaging, Dennison looks again at Vita's extraordinary life and makes a new sort of sense of it ... fascinating ... an insightful book. The connections between Vita's childhood, her dispossessions, her sexuality and her writing are compellingly explored. Vita emerges as a complex and interesting character, and far more than a gay icon' Literary Review
`Dennison emphasises the desire for solitude that existed in tension with her joyous sensuality and need for love' Guardian
`Detailed and fascinating ... Dennison shows true admiration for his latest subject ... freshly chronicled here for the first time in more than 30 years' Daily Express
`Intimate ... A splendid biography of a splendid character' The Lady
'This astute and engaging book looks again at Vita's extraordinary life and makes a new sort of sense of it ... Fascinating ... Insightful ... The connections between Vita's childhood, her dispossession, her sexuality and her writing are compellingly explored. Vita emerges as a complex and interesting character, and far more than a gay icon' Literary Review
`Comprehensively documents her literary ... with evocative portraits of her husband [and lovers] ... Dennison's Vita is convincingly ambivalent and inflammatory, a product of her age' New Statesman
'This carefully researched book is intelligently and elegantly written ... balanced, oratical and confident' Spectator
`Brilliant ... thorough and engaging' Daily Mail
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