Vita Sackville-West papers relating to Violet Trefusis
Scope and Contents
Series I, Correspondence (1910-1925), consists primarily of letters from Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West written during the 1910's and 1920's. The letters illustrate the intensity of Trefusis's involvement in the affair, and describe their time together, their attempts at "escape" or elopement, and the effect of the relationship on Trefusis's life, her marriage to Denys Trefusis, her relationship with her mother, Alice Keppel, and Sackville-West's relationship with her husband, Harold Nicolson. Many of these letters have been published in Violet to Vita: The Letters of Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West, 1910-21, edited by Mitchell A. Leaska and John Phillips (London: Methuen, 1989). Also included in this series are letters from Trefusis to her friend Pat Dansey, letters to Trefusis from Dansey and others, and many letters from Dansey to Vita Sackville-West regarding Trefusis's and Sackville-West's relationship.
Series II, Writings (1905-1921), contains holograph poems and other unidentified writings written by Trefusis and Sackville-West, and one diary kept by Trefusis in May of 1905.
Series III, Additional Materials (1926), contains two photographs of Vita Sackville-West, and a metal bullet of unknown origin.
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Box 7: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
2.4 Linear Feet (7 boxes)
A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog
VITA SACKVILLE-WEST (1892-1962) AND VIOLET TREFUSIS (1894-1972)
The friendship became a love affair in 1918, well after Vita's marriage to Harold Nicolson in 1913. Violet herself married Major Denys Trefusis in 1919. Throughout the years 1918 to 1921, the correspondence continued. Violet, who was unhappy in her marriage, often begged Vita to run away with her. They did "elope" briefly to Paris in 1920, but Vita, whose marriage was a happy one, allowed herself to be "rescued" by her husband.
After another trip abroad with Violet in January 1921, Vita chose life with her husband and two sons over life with Violet. Denys Trefusis agreed not to divorce Violet, and she eventually went to live with him in Paris. Violet was forbidden to have any contact with Vita, although letters were exchanged through their mutual confidant, Pat Dansey (who herself became one of Vita's lovers). Slowly, the correspondence came to an end, and aside from a brief meeting at a party in 1924, the two women did not see each other again until 1940, when Violet fled France for England during World War II.
For more detailed biographical information about Violet Trefusis, see the register for the Violet Trefusis Papers (GEN MSS 427).
- Guide to the Vita Sackville-West Papers Relating to Violet Trefusis
- Under Revision
- by Kathryn Rawdon
- December 1998
- Description rules
- Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository
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