Several years ago I watched a series on PBS called "All Passions
Spent" and I thought it was such a good production. I also
thought it was full of wisdom and thought the novel it was based on
must be really good and the author must be worth looking into.
That started me off into a world whose connections have gone all the
way to the reading list for the lecture series on foreign policy that
I've been attending!
The novel the series was based on was written by Vita
Sackville-West. So off I went to find her books. This was
before one could search the library on the internet. Well, none
of her books were in print or readily available! However, I did
find, at the bookstore, a book about her written by her son called
Portrait of a Marriage
. So I bought that and read the
absolutely fascinating story of part of her life as told by her son, and found
that she was connected to Virginia Woolf.
So off I went to look into Virginia Woolf and boy, that was a rich lot
of reading! All I had known about Virginia Woolf was that there
was a play called Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf! Virginia celebrated Vita in her book Orlando
Then one day in an airport bookstore I saw a biography of Vita by
Victoria Glendinning which I bought and read avidly all through the 4.5
hour flight! What a book! What a life! What an
Finally, a book by Sir Harold Nicholson, a British diplomat, is on the
reading list for my foreign policy lectures, and he was Vita's
I have purposefully left out details of all this so as not to spoil it
for anyone who wants to look into these things. It was a
fascinating trail that opened many doors.