Matthew Dennison avec Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita Sackville-West
Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962) defied categorization: lonely, imaginative girl growing up in the vast stately home of Knole; acclaimed novelist and poet; adored wife and mother; proud aristocrat; passionate lesbian; model for her lover Virginia Woolf's transsexual hero/ine Orlando; and recluse who found solace in her garden at Sissinghurst. This sympathetic biography unravels the extraordinary life and tangled relationships of a radical, sensitive and uncompromising woman who remained an enigma even to herself.
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
Matthew Dennison is the author of the critically acclaimed ‘The Last Princess: The Devoted Life of Queen Victoria's Youngest Daughter’, written with the full assistance of the Royal Archives and published in nine UK editions to date, ‘Empress of Rome: The Life of Livia’, ‘The Twelve Caesars’ and ‘Queen Victoria’. Described in the Independent as 'one of those rare marvels, a historical biographer whose work has reached the bestseller lists', he is also a regular contributor to Country Life, Telegraph Magazine, the Times and Majesty.