Harold Nicolson was a man of extraordinary gifts. A renowned politician, historian, biographer, diarist, novelist, lecturer, journalist, broadcaster and gardener, his position in society and politics allowed him an insight into the most dramatic events of British, indeed world, history.
Nicolson’s personal life was no less dramatic. Married to Vita Sackville-West, one of the most famous writers of her day, their marriage survived, even prospered, despite their both being practising homosexuals. Unashamedly elitist, bound together by their literary, social, and intellectual pursuits, moving in the refined circles of the Bloomsbury group they viewed life from the rarified peaks of aristocratic haughtiness.
Few men could boast such gifts as Nicolson possessed, yet he ended his life plagued by self-doubt. ‘I am attempting nothing; therefore I cannot fail, ‘ he once acknowledged. What went wrong? It was a question that haunted Nicolson throughout his adult life. Relying on a wealth of archival material, Norman Rose brilliantly disentangles fact from fiction, setting Nicolson’s story of perceived failure against the wider perspective of his times.