AN EXCEPTIONAL ARCHIVE OF ITEMS RELATED TO VITA SACKVILLE-WEST AND SISSINGHURST: WONDERFUL AUTOGRAPH LETTER WRITTEN AND SIGNED BY VITA SACKVILLE-WEST ALLOWING A GROUP ENTRY TO HER GARDEN AT SISSINGHURST CASTLE AND A TYPED LETTER SIGNED BY SACKVILLE-WEST'S SON AND BIOGRAPHER NIGEL NICOLSON PROVIDING A PHOTOGRAPH OF SACKVILLE-WEST IN HER GARDEN, ALSO SIGNED BY NICOLSON
SACKVILLE-WEST, Vita. Archive, including autograph letter signed. Kent, England, circa 1935-1995. Single sheet of blue Sissinghurst letterhead, measuring 4-1/2 by 7 inches; single sheet of white Sissinghurst letterhead, measuring 6 by 8-1/4 inches; original photograph, measuring approximately 4 by 6 inches. $1350.
Interesting Sissinghurst archive comprising an autograph signed letter by Vita Sackville-West offering access to Sissinghurst Castle Garden; a typed signed letter by her son, Nigel Nicolson, rejecting a request for family photographs but offering an admirer a picture of his mother in the garden; and the promised picture of Sackville-West in her garden, signed on the verso by Nigel Nicolson.
Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicolson, bought Sissinghurst, a derelict estate, in 1930. While it was originally home to overgrown gardens and broken windows, it later became a showpiece, particularly for its breathtaking gardens designed and executed by Sackville-West. The estate, now maintained by the National Trust, was a creative paradise. There, Sackville-West wrote 17 books and some of her best poetry. Today, the estate's tower houses the Hogarth Press, used by the Woolfs to print countless classic works including many by Sackville-West. A close companion of Virginia Woolf, Sackwell-West served as the inspiration for Woolf's Orlando, which was in effect "an open love-letter" to her (DNB).
The autograph signed letter, dated "April 12th" and written on Sissinghurst Castle letterhead, reads: "Dear Mr. Bennett, I have made a note of Wed July 14th for your visit. The time you spend here will really depend on you. It is not a large garden, or house, and 1/2 an hour would enable you to see everything—but of course your members will be most welcome to linger as long as they care to. Yours sincerely, Vita Nicolson [Sackville-West]." The letter may be addressed to John Bennett, who was a prominent English gardener and the president of the Royal Horticultural Society. Sackville-West had primary control over her gardens from 1930 to 1947, when she gave them to the National Trust (but continued living there). Thus, this letter must be from 1931, 1937, or 1943. It is most likely from 1937, well after the construction of the garden, but prior to 1938, when Sackville-West opened her garden to the public and began charging a very small admission fee. The typed letter, dated "19th July 1995" on Sissinghurst Castle letterhead, reads: "Dear Mr. Ravenscroft, Thank you for your further letter. Most of my family photographs are pasted into albums, from which it is very difficult to extract without damage. So all I can send you in response to your request is this photograph of my mother Vita in the garden. Yours sincerely [signed] Nigel Nicolson." Mr. Ravenscroft may be a relative of Ann Ravenscroft-Holmes, a famous Sackville-West collector and the author of Vita Sackville-West: A Bibliography. The photograph is signed on the verso by Nigel Nicolson. Crop markings and pencil notation reading "original photo used in Vita & Harold" on verso of photograph. Vita and Harold: The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson was edited by Nigel Nicolson.
Autograph letter with black paper along rear edge and a few areas of toning; typed letter fine with faint original crease; photograph with faint paper clip indentation. A lovely and desirable archive.