VIRGINIA NICHOLSON was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1955. Her father was the art historian and writer Quentin Bell, acclaimed for his biography of his aunt Virginia Woolf. Her mother Anne Olivier Bell edited the five volumes of Virginia Woolf’s Diaries.
Virginia grew up in the suburbs of Leeds, but the family moved to Sussex when she was in her teens. She was educated at Lewes Priory School (Comprehensive). After a gap year working in Paris she went on to study English Literature at King’s College Cambridge.
In 1978 Virginia spent a year living in Italy (Venice), where she taught English and learnt Italian. Returning to the UK in 1979 she re-visited her northern childhood while working for Yorkshire Television as a researcher for children’s programmes. In 1983 she joined the Documentary department of BBC Television.
In 1988 Virginia married screenwriter and author William Nicholson. Following the birth of their son in 1989, Virginia left the BBC and shortly afterwards the Nicholsons moved to East Sussex. Two daughters were born in 1991 and 1993.
Living in Sussex, Virginia became increasingly involved with the Trust that administered Charleston, home of her grandmother the painter Vanessa Bell, in due course becoming its Deputy Chairman. Her first book (co-authored with her father) CHARLESTON: A Bloomsbury House and Garden was published by Frances Lincoln in 1997. In 1999/2000 she made a ten-city tour of the USA to promote the book and Charleston itself.
In November 2002 Viking published AMONG THE BOHEMIANS - Experiments in Living 1900-1939 to critical acclaim. Its publication by Morrow, USA in February 2004 was followed by a sell-out lecture and publicity tour round five American cities.
SINGLED OUT - How Two Million Women Survived Without Men After the First World War, was published in August 2007. In this book Virginia Nicholson has set out to tell the stories of a remarkable generation of women forced by a historic tragedy to reinvent their lives. Singled Out received a spate of enthusiastic reviews which applauded it as a pioneering and humane work of social history. Virginia’s fourth book MILLIONS LIKE US – Women’s Lives in War and Peace 1939-1949 was published in May 2011. The work on all these books was combined with her continuing commitment to the Charleston Trust.