Welcome to my website.

This is where you can find out about me, about the books I write, about my work for Charleston, and about how to contact me.

‘Virginia Nicholson is one of the great social historians of our time. No one else makes history this fun.’

Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

‘Virginia Nicholson is the outstanding recorder of British lives in the twentieth century.’ 

Carmen Callil

I’ve now written five books of social history. My sixth, How Was it for You? Women, Sex, Love and Power in the 1960s, was published in March 2019.

In The Times, Ysenda Maxtone Graham gave the book a superlative review, describing it as “sparklingly readable”, and ‘[a] magisterial and sensuous overview of the decade”, while Rosie Boycott wrote in the Financial Times: “The stories are terrific”, and Daisy Goodwin’s Sunday Times review described it as a “sparkling survey…” featuring “a wonderfully diverse range of voices… Reading this book made me grateful for how far we had come.”

Its subject matter picks up where Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes - The Story of Women in the 1950s left off, and exposes the new battleground for women as the sexual revolution kicks in.

In June 2019 I was honoured and delighted to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. The citation quoted Carmen Callil: “Virginia Nicholson is the outstanding recorder of British lives in the twentieth century.”

As President of the Charleston Trust, I work - when not researching or writing - to support Charleston, the one-time home of my grandmother the painter Vanessa Bell and other members of the Bloomsbury group, which is now an internationally-renowned museum.

My background is in TV documentaries; I’ve written newspaper features and book reviews, and I also give talks. In the last few years I’ve appeared at the Hay-on-Wye, Cheltenham, Bath, Oxford, Dartington, Ilkley and Charleston Literary Festivals (to name just a few).



‘Intimate, immersive, often moving, How Was it For You? subtly but powerfully subverts complacent male assumptions about a legendary decade.’

David Kynaston

The cliché of the 1960s: the Pill, Beatlemania, the mini-skirt and Swinging London. A world of Free Love which appeared to promise peace, love and togetherness.

But what was the flip side of a youth supposedly given over to sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll? How Was It For You? reconstructs the real 1960s, putting the women who lived it centre stage.

How Was it for You?  follows its predecessors (Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes and Millions Like Us) in tracking the 20th Century through the experiences of women from 1960-1970.

‘With fine intelligence and irresistible brio, Virginia Nicholson brings alive the moral rigidity, panty-wetting Beatlemania, and A-bomb nihilism of 60s England. What was left for women to do? Shake it out and shake it up, and they did. How Was It For You? is a kaleidoscopic tribute to the generation that put the “F” into feminism. I ripped through it with gusto and delight.’

Tina Brown


‘Entertaining, and shocking... Nicholson succeeds brilliantly… I was completely gripped...’

Daily Telegraph

‘Nicholson’s book should be necessary reading…’

The Sunday Times

In the 1950s women were told how to lure their man to the altar. Once married, they were told they could have it all – washing machines, fridges and TVs. But the deal was: stay in the home, cook, and bring up the children. Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes is a story of submission and struggle, rebellion and reward. 

Millions Like Us covers the war and its aftermath, 1939-1949 and was Viking’s lead non-fiction title in Spring 2011. This book tracks women’s experiences of a momentous decade through a host of individual stories, drawing on autobiographies, archives and living memory.

“Millions Like Us deserves to be a bestseller…”
— The Daily Mail

There is nothing new about young women who can’t find relationships. Singled Out tells the moving and inspiring story of that generation - known as the 'Surplus Women’ - who discovered after the 1914-18 war that there were, quite simply, not enough men to go round. 

“Inspiring, lovingly researched, well-written and humane…”
— The Economist

Among the Bohemians charts the valiant domestic experiments of the rebels and free spirits, artists, poets, writers and composers, who in the early twentieth century declared war on Victorian conformity.

“Popular history at its most gossipy and intelligent… This book is a joy.”
— The Observer

Co-authored with her father Quentin Bell, Virginia Nicholson’s first book is a true insider’s view. Alen MacWeeney’s delectable photographs breathe life into the colourful interiors and garden of the Sussex farmhouse occupied by artists Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and their family and friends. 

“A wonderful book about the Sussex farmhouse inhabited by members of the Bloomsbury Group…”
— Sunday Telegraph
Vanessa Bell painting of Charleston Pond, 1919

Vanessa Bell painting of Charleston Pond, 1919