Vita Sackville-West with her sons in 1924. Photo: Getty Images

The habit of writing down the story of our lives has long been a tradition in our family,” comments Juliet Nicolson in her new book, A House Full of Daughters. True enough. Her famous grandfather, the diplomat Harold Nicolson, was a prolific author; his thirty-seven books of history, biography, and fiction were not particularly personal, but his three volumes of Diaries and Letters, edited by his son Nigel (Juliet’s father), reveal a great deal about this wildly unconventional family. His wife, Vita Sackville-West, wrote repeatedly about her predecessors both in memoirs and, thinly...

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