Norman Nicholson was born in Millom, Cumberland, in January of 1914. Nicolson’s family lived in a Victorian home, in which he was the only child. It was here that his father, Joseph, found employment as a gentleman’s outfitter, and lived alongside Nicholson’s mother, Edith. Nicholson’s mother died in 1919, while the poet was still very young, only five years old. As he aged, he was educated at Holborn Hill School as well as the Millom Secondary School. He was considered to be a very good student, standing out from among his friends.
Education and Illness
His early life was not easy. In addition to the premature death of his mother, Nicholson was pulled from school when he was 16 years old and placed in a treatment center for pulmonary tuberculosis. He was forced to spend two years here as there was no cure for TB at that time. While recovering from the illness he was sent on to live at the Linford, Hampshire sanatorium. In an effort to further his recovery he was limited to a very small amount of exercise, speaking, and general engagement with other people.
The young man was sent home before he was fully recovered, but his health did improve. He began writing during this time period and his poems appeared in a variety of publications. It was also during the 20s that his father remarried to a teacher, with whom he spent the majority of his time.
While publishing his early work, Nicholson was introduced to T.S. Eliot who was working as a reading editor at Faber & Faber at that time. He helped Nicholson publish his first collection, Five Rivers. It appeared in 1944. It Is for his poetry that Nicholson is most remembered, but he also wrote a number of verse plays and novels. It was the mid-1900s that proved to be Nicholson’s most productive period.
He went on to published Rock Face in 1948 and then, much later, Sea to the West, in 1981. Amongst these two better-known volumes, he published a number of other works which include, biographies of H.G. Wells and William Cowper, as well as novels such as The Green Shore, and The Fire of the Lord.
Death and Legacy
Norman Nicholson died in May of 1987, and a posthumous collection of his poetry was released in 1994. His life is memorialized within a library and church in the town of his birth, Millom.