On taking possession of Sissinghurst Castle in 1930, Vita Sackville-West’s first step was to create an airy writing room on the first floor of the Tower. Her husband, Harold Nicolson, claimed a cosier space on the ground floor of nearby South Cottage. The working libraries of two prolific authors, both rooms are to this day still filled with their books. Each collection is powerfully expressive of personality: Harold favoured political, social and literary history, while Vita prioritised poetry, gardening and travel alongside the works of contemporary writers. Sexuality was a subject of equal interest to both partners, and it is no surprise to find that they maintained a well-stocked bookshelf dedicated to sex and psychology.
Vita and Harold’s open marriage has been explored in countless books, examining its impact on their families, their writing and the gardens they created at Long Barn and Sissinghurst. Less attention has been paid to the way that their sexuality shaped the homes they shared and to the complex choreography of their queer domesticity. Separate living helped the couple maintain a happy marriage alongside many same-sex relationships. Harold worked in London during the week, sharing his life with a series of