Let me tell you about two bisexual women that captured my heart and imagination. Their love burned with a passion poets could identify with. Lesbians claim them as one of their own. Violet Trefusis and Vita Sackville-West first met in school, when Violet was ten and Vita was twelve. Vita Sackville West was born in 1892. Had she been male she would have inherited Knole House the large English Estate in Sevenoaks Kent. In 1913 Vita married Harold Nicolson, also bisexual. Harold was frequently abroad in his capacity as an English diplomat. Vita eventually became a famous novelist, a fantastic and a well loved gardener and landscaper who had her own BBC show about gardening. She had two sons with Harold. For many years Vita and Violet carried on a passionate love affair, told by Vita’s son in “Portrait of a Marriage” available in book and video.
Let’s peek inside their love letters, Violet wrote the first letter to Vita when she was just 16, the second letter is written when she is 24, she signs herself Lushka and calls Vita, Mitya, their secret nicknames for each other. Vita’s letters to Violet were destroyed by Violet’s husband.
Violet to Vita October 8, 1910
“Well, you ask me pointblank why I love you, I love you, Vita, because I've fought so hard to win you. I love you, Vita, because you never gave me back my ring. I love you because you have never yielded in anything.
I love you because you never capitulate. I love you for your wonderful intelligence, for your literary aspirations, for your unconscious (?) coquetry. I love you because you have the air of doubting nothing! I love in you what is also in me: imagination, the gift for languages, taste, intuition and a host of other things, I love you, Vita, because I've seen your soul.”
Violet to Vita June 30, 1918
“Men tilich, it was Hell leaving you today. God, how I adore you and want you. You can't know how much. Last night was perfection. I am so proud of you, my sweet, I revel in your beauty, your beauty of form and feature. I exult in my surrender, today, not always though.
Mitya, I miss you so - I don't care what I say - I love belonging to you - I glory in it, that you alone ... have bent me to your will, shattered my self-possession, robbed me of my mystery, made me yours, yours, so that away from you I am nothing but a useless puppet! an empty husk.”
BURN THIS! Promise.
Notice that Vita did not burn the letter. The following letter is from Vita to Violet 40 years later. Violet’s letters to Vita were found packaged, along with a ring in Vita’s papers after her death. They are proof of a passionate love and were used in part to write “Portrait of a Marriage”.
Vita to Violet September 3, 1950
It was a real event in my life and my heart to be with you the other day. We do matter to each other, don't we? however much our ways may have diverged. I think we have got something indestructible between us, haven't we? Even right back to the library seat in your papa's room at Grosvenor Street -- and then at Duntreath -- and then to everything that came afterwards. Glissons, mortels ... but what a bond, Lushka darling; a bond of childhood and subsequent passion, such as neither of us will ever share with anyone else.
It has been a very strange relationship, ours; unhappy at times, happy at others; but unique in its way, and infinitely precious to me and (may I say?) to you.
What I like about it is that we always come together again however long the gaps in our meetings may have been. Time seems to make no difference. This is a sort of love letter I suppose. Odd that I should be writing you a love letter after all these years - when we have written so many to each other. Parceque c'etait lui parceque c'etait moit.
Oh, you sent me a book about Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Thank you, darling generous Lushka and you gave me a coal-black briquet. It lights up into the flame of love which always burns in my heart whenever I think of you. You said it would last for three months, but our love has lasted for forty years and more.
Vita went on to love many other women, including Virginia Woolf who wrote a semi-fictional book “Orlando” describing Vita’s love for Violet as a love that transpired over centuries and transcended genders. “Orlando” has been called the longest most charming love letter in history. It was Virginia’s, also a bisexual, love letter to Vita. The coal-black briquet was both the ring and the glowing ember of love that lasted all those years