A textured, beige book cover titled Sissinghurst by V. Sackville-West, with The Hogarth Press in small type at the bottom


Transcript below

Brandon Taylor: I love the idea that Virginia Woolf had a press and she published her girlfriend on the press.

Francesca Wade: Yeah, nepotism and publishing.

Brandon Taylor: And Sissinghurst as being this very strange… I find it a very strange book, Francesca.

Francesca Wade: Why so? 

Brandon Taylor: I don’t know what to make of it. It’s a weird… I find it to be a strange book, mainly because it feels very formless to me and squishy. And I do wonder, would she have published it had it not been for Hogarth?

Francesca Wade: Yeah, well Vita Sackville-West was an incredibly kind of successful writer, right? She was a bestseller, in fact—much more popular than Woolf was in her lifetime. I think there is some… I think much later kind of into the thirties, there’s some pretty acerbic diary entries when Woolf is rather jealous that Vita has sold a story to The Atlantic or something for a huge amount of money, and Virginia, I think, definitely believes that she is the better writer but wonders what she’s doing wrong.

Brandon Taylor: And so then it turns out this is a great get for the Hogarth Press. 

Francesca Wade: Perhaps.

Brandon Taylor: I hadn’t known about the sort of intense artistic rivalry between the two of them.

Francesca Wade: Yeah, I don’t know quite… I think there was a sense that they wrote in different styles and did different things, and actually I think Vita’s books did prop up the Hogarth Press doors to a certain extent. In 1939, when there was paper rationing brought in, the Woolfs had to have a big kind of conference to decide what they were going to do with the Hogarth Press during the war, and they decided they would buy up enough paper to keep Vita’s books in print because they needed… They couldn’t afford to let them go out. So things like, you know, Hope Mirrlees might have fallen by the wayside, but, you know, it was business as well as personal savviness. 

When Vita couldn’t inherit Knole, Sissinghurst was the place she really made her home, and she made this incredible garden, which is what she really poured herself into, and it’s a really, really beautiful place to walk around. And in fact, I think that at Sissinghurst they have the original Hogarth Press, up there in a sort of castle turret. 

Brandon Taylor: That is the thing I think about Vita and her property—this endless quest for a room of one’s own, a home of one’s own, and the fact that it does attain this, not mythic quality, but it is a sort of Camelot for the Sackville-Wests and the Woolfs, right? It is this sort of magical space where they can have a place where they play by their own rules, and they have their own set of priorities at a place that is utterly ordered by their aesthetic sensibility and outlook on life.

End of Transcript