Beverley Nichols – Overview of Life and Works
9th September 1898 – 15th September 1983
by Roy C Dicks
Hailed as one of the original “Bright Young Things” of the 1920s, prolific English author Beverley Nichols wrote more than 60 books, including novels, children’s books, mysteries, short stories and poetry, as well as works on travel, politics, religion, celebrity profiles, cats and gardening. His popular and often news-making books were published regularly throughout six decades, with his last published a year before his death at age 85. He also authored plays, composed songs for musical revues and wrote weekly essay columns for major newspapers and magazines.
His most enduring successes, however, were his books on gardens and homes. The first, and best known, “Down the Garden Path,” was published in 1932 and became an instant best seller on both sides of the Atlantic. It came about from his 1928 purchase of a thatched cottage in the village of Glatton, Cambridgeshire for a weekend home away from the bustle of London. Knowing nothing about gardening, he set out to learn, making the mistakes and discoveries common to all first-time gardeners. The public’s enthusiastic response to this whimsical recounting of his education compelled Nichols to write two more books on his Glatton experiences, “A Thatched Roof” (1933) and “A Village in a Valley” (1934), known collectively as “The Allways Chronicles” also referred to as “The Glatton Trilogy”.
Nichols was always on the lookout for “the next big thing,” leading him to write on the widest range of subjects, from parapsychology to pacifism and from Christianity to cats. Because of this diversity, the literary establishment often criticized Nichols for a lack of focus and higher purpose. Indeed, much of his writing was of the moment and must be read in that context. But the garden writings, along with certain fiction and autobiographical works, remain timelessness, delighting each new reader with their charm, warmth and humor.
Since 1930 until his death in 1983, Nichols lived with his long-term partner, Cyril Butcher.
Footnote: Although now out of print, Bryan Connon’s biography “Beverley Nichols: A Life” makes compelling reading about this fascinating, versatile and talented gentleman. ISBN-10: 1604690445 ISBN-13: 9781604690446
Beverley Nichols’ Desert Island Discs
Mon 21st November 1955. Roy Plomley’s castaway was writer and journalist Beverley Nichols.