Vanessa Nicolson | Granta

Vanessa Nicolson

Vanessa Nicolson was brought up in London and Florence and has worked as an art historian and journalist. Her publications include The Sculpture of Maurice Lambert (Lund Humphries / Ashgate, 2002), commissioned by the Henry Moore Foundation. She is married to the writer Andrew Davidson and lives in Sissinghurst.


Have You Been Good?

Vanessa Nicolson

Vanessa Nicolson is the granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson. She was born to an illustrious name and an unhappy marriage. Her father, the art historian Ben Nicolson, was homosexual and his marriage to Vanessa’s Italian mother fell apart when Vanessa was very young.

In this powerful and meditative memoir she chronicles her disjointed childhood and reckless youth, including holidays at Sissinghurst Castle with her cousins, and her experience of a liberal English boarding school. Interlinked with her story is that of her daughter Rosa, who died, aged 19.

This book is a meditation on the threads of love and loss that weave through a life and an examination of the meaning of cultural privilege in the context of emotional deprivation.