Edward Sackville-West (1901-1965)

The surname is familiar to readers of this period, but not, I expect, the first name! This is the cousin of  the writer and gardener Vita Sackville-West. My first thought was that this is the man who inherited Knole from his Uncle, over poor Vita. (Vita, daughter of Baron Sackville, grew up at the Tudor palace Knole, in Kent. She never really came to terms with the realization that as a woman, she could not inherit the estate. So, not poor in a material sense.)

We were fortunate enough to receive a set of novels Edward Sackville-West in a donation from a reading group member. One of her relatives had collected them, and she said that he hadn’t really rated Sackville-West as a writer, but nonetheless liked to collect the books…

Eddy, as he was known, had a fairly brief literary career. He started writing novels while at Oxford; they are all autobiographical:

The Ruin (1926)

The Piano Quintet (1925)

Mandrake Over the Water-Carrier (1928)

Simpson (1931) Awarded the Femina Vie Heureuse prize

According to his biographer, Michael De-La-Noy, his best works were A Flame in Sunlight: the Life and Work of Thomas De Quincy (1936), which won the James Tait memorial prize, and The Rescue: A Melodrama for Broadcasting (1943), for which Benjamin Britten produced a score.

Eddy became best known as a music critic, and in 1951 he and Desmond Shawe-Taylor compiled their first Record Guide (which some of our reading group remembered well).

Source: Michael De-la-Noy, ‘West,  Edward Charles  Sackville-, fifth Baron Sackville  (1901–1965)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press,  2004; online edn, May 2006 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/35901, accessed 22 Jan 2014]

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