Behind Closed Doors

Stepping into Bloomsbury Rooms

This talk explores the homes of three writers linked to the Bloomsbury Group: Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West and Eddy Sackville-West. The Bloomsbury Group was a set of writers and artists who met in the Bloomsbury area of London, challenging the conventions of their Victorian predecessors in person, and in books like Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians. Linked by a complex web of relationships, Virginia, Vita and Eddy created country retreats which expressed their unusual personalities.

At Monk’s House, Virginia Woolf looked forward to the modern age, favoring the bright colors and bold patterns of her favorite Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. At Sissinghurst, Vita Sackville-West looked back to the past and the Elizabethan age, filling her rooms with the romantic relics of former lovers. At Knole, Vita’s first cousin Eddy mixed Sackville heirlooms with the vibrant works of his artist lovers Duncan Grant, Stephen Tomlin and John Banting. Virginia Woolf combined the characters of Vita and Eddy in her novel Orlando—published in 1928 and set at Knole—creating a hero/heroine who changes their sex over time.

Descended from a family at the heart of Bloomsbury, Nino Strachey will offer a personal perspective on the stories revealed in her new book Rooms of Their Own: Eddy Sackville-West, Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West (Pavilion Books, 2018).

This lecture is generously supported by Dr. and Mrs. Daniel Ervin.

Thank you to our co-sponsors Charleston Library Society and FREEMAN’S.

The Writing Room, looking towards the sofa and hexagonal table and bookshelves, in the Tower at Sissinghurst, home of Vita Sackville-West and her husband Sir Harold Nicolson, near Cranbrook, Kent. This room was Vita’s sanctum where she wrote her books, poetry and gardening articles. ©National Trust Images John Hammond

The Hon. Nino Strachey

Head of Research for the National Trust

The Hon. Nino Strachey is descended from a family at the heart of the Bloomsbury Group. Her research focuses on the expression of personality through place, interpreting the biography of buildings and collections. Since starting her career with the Landmark Trust, she has worked for English Heritage and the National Trust, curating the homes of scientists (Darwin), politicians (Churchill) and writers (Shaw). She is head of Research and Specialist Advice for the National Trust.

Past Event

The Sitting Room at Monk's House, East Sussex ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel


Tuesday, October 2 | 6:00 p.m.


Charleston Library Society,
164 King Street


$30 members; $40 non-members

The Sitting Room at Monk's House, East Sussex ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel