So, hopping from one Tudor era book to another – I have started Woolf’s Orlando and it is delicious.
“The age was the Elizabethan; their morals were not ours; nor their poets; nor their climate; nor their vegetables even. Everything was different.”
But as it is impossible to read this without thinking of Vita Sackville-West, I have spent a good deal of time browsing through Portrait of a Marriage, Vita’s son’s account of his parents’ relationship – and of course it features some of the background to how Orlando was conceived.
“But Orlando! Imagine those two, seeing each other at least once a week, one writing a book about the other, swooping on Knole to squeeze from it another paragraph, on Long Barn to trap Vita into a new admission about her past (Violet, whom Virginia met once, comes into the book as Sasha, a Russian princess, ‘like a fox, or an olive tree’), dragging Vita to a London studio to have her photographed as a Lely, tantalizing her, hinting at the fantasy but never lifting more than a corner of it – until on the day before publication, Orlando arrived in a brown-paper parcel from the Hogarth Press, followed a few days later by the author with the manuscript as a present.”