In November 1909, when Harold Nicolson was twenty-three years old, he wrote his parents the following letter, detailing his vision of idyllic Edwardian domesticity. It does sound rather appealing (I can’t imagine how irritating a life without hot shaving water would be) but not enough for Nicolson to actually pursue such a future for himself. His marriage to Vita was famously unconventional and (aside from a bumpy first few years) very happy, a far cry from what the young man thought he wanted:
I dined with the Alstons last night. They were simply delightful. I do like matrimony. A nice cheap little house in Draycott Avenue with white walls and an old French overmantel with a Romney, some coloured china and large chintz chairs. On the table good silver and a simple but excellent dinner. I am sure it is the sort of life in which one’s shaving water would always be hot, and one’s breakfast adequate. And then what a joy in the evenings as one leaves the Office to fly back to a big chair, a book and a little cuddly wife who wouldn’t talk. And then about 7 p.m. the children would come down and the mother would read them stories and I would go to sleep. In the evening at dinner she would tell me how wonderful I was, and I would accept her admiration, and go to sleep after dinner with no one to laugh at me.