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  • Published: 24 March 2016
  • ISBN: 9781473511682
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336

A House Full of Daughters

One woman's investigation into the nature of memory, the past, and above all, love

One woman's investigation into the nature of memory, the past, and above all, love.

All families have their myths and Juliet Nicolson's was no different: her flamenco dancing great-great-grandmother Pepita, the flirty manipulation of her great-grandmother Victoria, the infamous eccentricity of her grandmother Vita, her mother's Tory-conventional background.

A House Full of Daughters takes us through seven generations of women. In the nineteenth-century slums of Malaga, the salons of fin-de-siècle Washington DC, an English boarding school during the Second World War, Chelsea in the 1960s, these women emerge for Juliet as people in their own right, but also as part of who she is and where she has come from

  • Published: 24 March 2016
  • ISBN: 9781473511682
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336

About the author

Juliet Nicolson

Juliet Nicolson is the author of two works of history, The Great Silence: 1918–1920 Living in the Shadow of the Great War and The Perfect Summer: Dancing into Shadow in 1911; a novel, Abdication; and a family memoir, A House Full of Daughters.

As the granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson and the daughter of Nigel Nicolson she is part of a renowned and much scrutinised family and the latest in the family line of record-keepers of the past. She lives with her husband in East Sussex, not far from Sissinghurst, where she spent her childhood.

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Praise for A House Full of Daughters

Shocking and brave... Nicolson's anger, tenderness and insight have resulted in an exceptionally moving book

Miranda Seymour, Daily Telegraph

I couldn't put it down... Enthralling, touching and beautifully written

Joanna Lumley

Original and illuminating… A House Full of Daughters gallops through seven generations with confidence and ease: it is funny in parts, painful in others but always honest.

Andrea Wulf, Guardian

Tense, highly personal and beautifully written... A powerful and moving family portrait

Christena Appleyard, Literary Review

Candid, poignant, well-written and wonderfully life-affirming

Sebastian Shakespeare, Tatler

The most enjoyable book to take on holiday would undoubtedly be Juliet Nicolson’s A House Full of Daughters . It combines history with memoir in a way that both historians and memoirists should envy

Lady Antonia Fraser, Observer Best Holiday Reads 2016

In prose that is lyrical and sometimes self-lacerating, she anatomises the failures of love and attention, none the less destructive for being inadvertent, from which these husbands, wives, parents and children, suffered so acutely … Lent grace by Nicolson’s lustrous prose, and by the redemptive hope that love and forgiveness will free the latest generations from the baleful patterns of the past.

Jane Shilling, Evening Standard

A marvelous writer, with a wonderful eye for detail

New York Times Book Review


Mark Mason, Daily Mail

Nicolson’s aim in her meditative contribution to Nicolson studies is not so much to chronicle…as to search for patterns in the intergenerational weave… A fascinating social document.

D.J. Taylor, The Times

Surprisingly affecting... impressively understated... remarkably sad

Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

This is a book about how a family survives emotional dramas and difficulties down the generations, and at what cost... Not long ago such difficulties used not to be spoken, much less written about; Nigel Nicolson himself, in 1974, took one of the first steps in breaking that taboo… His daughter now takes honesty about family matters much further. In writing this highly entertaining account, she shows exceptional emotional resilience

Anne Chisholm, Spectator

Brilliant, incisive exploration of seven generations of women… A riveting read… This is an elegantly written meditation on family, identity and the impact of the past.

Juanita Coulson, Lady

In historian Juliet Nicolson's story of seven generations of her family, it's refreshing to find the women take centre stage... for so many generations, the birth of a daughter was a disappointment, but Nicolson redresses the balance

Charlotte Heathcote, Sunday Express

Poignant and courageous

Sunday Telegraph

This is Juliet Nicolson's own truth, courageously shared

Victoria Glendinning, Oldie

Strikingly lucid, brave and generous

Sue Gaisford, Tablet

This is the mesmerising, seven-generations saga of the strong women in Juliet Nicolson’s family

Iain Finlayson, Saga Magazine

Alongside vivid portraits of Pepita, Victoria and Vita, Nicolson delivers a magnificently clear-eyed view of her mother… Lovely, elegant book, painstakingly unsentimental.

Nick Curtis, Radio Times

She examines the pride, passion, resentment, emotional neglect, addiction and loss, and recognizes them in her own life... a treat


Few writers can boast such a literary heritage as Juliet Nicolson, granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, who turns her astute historian’s eye onto her own family history.

Choice Magazine

An engaging history-cum-memoir… Strongest when exploring the tender relationship between Nicolson and her father after her mother’s death as a result of alcoholism, her own struggles with the same condition, the knife-twist of grief when one loses a parent, and the emotional rush of motherhood.

Natasha Tripney, Guardian

I would recommend everyone to read this book

CB Patel, Asian Voice

Juliet Nicolson is firing on all cylinders ... She is able to write about powerful emotion in a way that is both heartfelt and unselfconscious ... It makes the book perfectly personal as well as a fascinating history

William Boyd

This book is a marvellous illustration of the often forgotten fact that people in history were real, with real ambition, real passion and real rage. All these women took life by the throat and shook it. It’s a wonderful read, and a powerful reminder of the significance of our matrilineal descent

Julian Fellowes

Juliet Nicolson's book will engage the hearts and minds of daughters and sons everywhere. She has turned my attention to much in my life, and I am full of admiration for her clarity and gentleness

Vanessa Redgrave

I loved A House Full of Daughters. I was initially intrigued, then gripped, and then when she began writing about herself, deeply moved and admiring of the way in which she charted her own journey. An illuminating book in which she charts the inevitability of family life and the damage and gifts that we inherit from the previous generations

Esther Freud

A fascinating, beautifully written, brutally honest family memoir. I was riveted. This is a book to read long into the night

Frances Osborne

I was riveted... She is so astute about mother/daughter relationships and the tenderness of fathers and daughters. She deeply understands the way problems pass down through generations... I congratulate her on her fierce understanding.

Erica Jong

Juliet Nicolson’s writing is so confident and assured. She combines the magic of a novelist with the rigour of a historian, and the result is thrilling and seriously powerful

Rosie Boycott

Once I started it was impossible to stop. I was totally absorbed by Juliet Nicolson's large-souled approach to family memoir down the generations, drawing the reader into lives that reverberate with achievement and suffering... movingly original

Lyndall Gordon

A moving and very revealing account of seven generations of strong and yet curiously vulnerable mothers and daughters

Julia Blackburn

An outstanding book about a gifted, unconventional family told through the female line. Insightful, painfully honest, beautifully written and full of love, wisdom, compassion, loss, betrayal and self-doubt. A House Full of Daughters will resonate down the years for all who read it

Juliet Gardiner

An engaging memoir in which Nicolson lays bare discoveries about herself, but also gives a fascinating inside take on her renowned, and already much scrutinized, forebears. She also has much that is thought-provoking to say about mothers and daughters, marriage and the way in which damaging patterns can repeat down generations.

Caroline Sanderson, Bookseller

Nicolson is perceptive on difficult mother-daughter relationships.

Leyla Sanai, Independent

A fascinating personal look at family, the past and love.

Kate Morton, Woman & Home

Beautifully written history… She has as easy and elegant a style as her many writer relations, so this book is seductively readable. It could be described as a late addition to the ‘Bloomsbury’ shelves, but that should not put off anyone who feels enough has been said about that particular group. I found it touching and fascinating. In admitting that Nigel Nicolson was a friend, I can say with confidence that he would have been painfully proud of his daughter’s candid confession.

Jessica Mann, BookOxygen

Highly readable, no-holds barred tale.

Jenny Comita, W Magazine

Nicolson has written a poignant and courageous history.

Daily Telegraph

The most enjoyable book to take on holiday would undoubtedly be Juliet Nicolson’s A House Full of Daughters… It is ideal holiday reading.

Lady Antonia Fraser, Guardian

A simple premise looking at seven generations of women in one family, but it's got all the juicy bits of several novels in one

Sarah Solemani, You Magazine

[An] ambitious memoir.

Lady, Book of the Year

An entrancing book… A poignant, well-written memoir-cum-social history

Sebastian Shakespeare, Daily Mail, Book of the Year

An entrancing book… A poignant, well-written memoir-cum-social history

Sebastian Shakespeare, Daily Mail, Book of the Year

A fine family memoir.

Daily Mail

This engrossing book charts seven generations of a family who were obsessive documenters of their lives through diaries, letters, memoirs and autobiographical novels… Interwoven with the personal is a portrait of society’s changing expectations of women, and the struggle to break free from patriarchy. Here, brilliantly laid bare, are both the trials of being a daughter and of documenting daughterhood in all its complexity.

Anita Sethi, Observer

A charming book about the female side of Nicolson’s family tree.


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