CHALLENGE was Vita Sackville-West's second novel. It was ready to go to print in 1920, but the aughor suddenly changed her mind. This was not because she lacked confidence in her work,but because of the scandal it would have caused. CHALLENGE remained unpublished for over fifty years.Vita's love affair with Violet Trefusis had reached its peak, and, eloping to France, they decided to abandon everything and everyone - children and husbands included - to spend the rest of their lives together. Although they returned to their families eventually, CHALLENGE remains a testament of their love, and was written during that period. The hero, Julian, might be a Byronic young Englishman, and Eve the woman he adores; it may be an adventure tale about a revolt on a Greek island. But really, this is a love story, written in the presence of the beloved, and inspired by her. And, as its title implies, the novel is a challenge to the society that condemned Vita and her lover.
From 1946 to 1957, Vita Sackville-West, the poet, bestselling author of All Passion Spent and maker of Sissinghurst, wrote a weekly column in the Observer describing her life at Sissinghurst, showing her to be one of the most visionary horticulturalists of the twentieth-century.With wonderful additions by Sarah Raven, Vita Sackville-West's Sissinghurst draws on this extraordinary archive, revealing Vita's most loved flowers, as well as offering practical advice for gardeners. Often funny and completely accessibly written with colour and originality, it also describes details of the trials and tribulations of crafting a place of beauty and elegance.Sissinghurst has gone on to become one of the most visited and inspirational gardens in the world and this marvellous book, illustrated with drawings and original photographs throughout, shows us how it was created and how gardeners everywhere can use some of the ideas from both Sarah Raven and Vita Sackville-West.