Violet Trefusis

English socialite and author (1894–1972)

Violet Trefusis (née Keppel) (6 June 189429 February 1972) was an English and French writer. Trefusis is best known for her relationship with novelist Vita Sackville-West. Their relationship was written under disguise in Virginia Woolf's Orlando: A Biography. She appeared in the novel as Princess Sasha.

Violet Trefusis by Jacques-Emile Blanche (1861-1942), oil on canvas/NPG 5229, 1926.


  • Across my life only one word will be written: "waste" - waste of love, waste of talent, waste of enterprise.
    • Author: Mitchell A. Leaska, Violet to Vita: The Letters of Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West, 1910-1921, published in (1990), pg.242
  • The following evening John left with Lady Shorne for the south of France, without so much as a word to me. Alexa felt as if she were hearing that fateful cliche for the first time. "Without so much as a word." No matter how much she tried to see it from every point of view, its meaning was always clear. John was a coward. Anne was his victim. The roles were the opposite of what she had supposed. It was Anne who had been heroic, not John. John was a coward, a mere puppet into whom both Anne and Alexa had managed to breathe a semblance of life. He was as much the creation of one as of the other.
    • Author: Violet Trefusis, Translator: Barbara Bray, Broderie Anglaise, published in (1992)
  • In each human being there is an emergency exit: that is, the cult of self under a multitude of manifestations, which means that when an obsession becomes too violent, you can escape, vanish with a snicker.
    • Author: Philippe Jullian, The other woman: A life of Violet Trefusis, including previously unpublished correspondence with Vita Sackville-West, published in (1976), pg.74

Quotes to Sackville-West

  • Heaven preserve me from littleness and pleasantness and smoothness. Give me great glaring vices, and great glaring virtues, but preserve me from the neat little neutral ambiguities. Be wicked, be brave, be drunk, be reckless, be dissolute, be despotic, be a suffragette, be anything you like, but for pity's sake be it to the top of your bent. Live fully, live passionately, live disastrously. Let's live, you and I, as none have ever lived before. - to Vita Sackville-West, October 25, 1918
    • Author: Nigel Nicolson, Co-author: Victoria Sackville-West, Portrait of a Marriage: Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, (1998), pg.148
  • You are my lover and I am your mistress and kingdoms and empires and governments have tottered and succumbed before now to that mighty combination.
    • Author: Mitchell A. Leaska, Violet to Vita: The Letters of Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West, 1910-1921, published in (1990), pg.27, Last words of letter March 1919
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