Beverley Nichols was a multitalented, nearly frenetic British socialite who would no doubt be humiliated to know that he is best remembered for his garden writings. He starred in movies in the 1920s, wrote music and songs for the theater, reported for newspapers, and wrote his own memoirs early on (Twenty-Five), plus numerous novels, mysteries, cat books, and biographies. He captured all his wild enthusiasms in print, and--lucky for us--he loved plants, gardens, and the eccentric personalities associated with them, which he celebrated in books about his own houses and gardens, Down the Garden Path, Merry Hall, Laughter on the Stairs, and Sunlight on the Lawn.
This biography re-creates Nichols's lively role in the English social milieu between and after the wars. Nichols consorted with the best and brightest (or the most written and talked about, anyway) for more than 40 years. He spent time with the Greek royal family, interviewed President Coolidge, and maintained friendships with Cecil Beaton, Noel Coward, and Somerset Maugham. Somehow he found time not only to create and care for gardens but also to write about them, and putting the man in the setting helps to understand and further appreciate his garden writings.
While A Life certainly throws light on the circumstances of Nichols's life, readers familiar with the man from his own melodramatic autobiography Father Figure may close the covers of this book no more enlightened about his emotional reactions to growing up one of three sons with a mother he idealized and a drunken father he abhorred, or his unfulfilling personal life as a homosexual in a time when such behavior was illegal and widely unacceptable. --Valerie Easton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Handsome, urbane, and multitalented, Nichols has emerged as one of the most enduring garden writers of the previous century. Curious readers who have just discovered the reprinted Merry Hall trilogy will relish Connon's candid look at the man who is perhaps best remembered for these charming books. In a convincing and copiously researched biography, Connon establishes the fact that a survey of Nichols' impressive vita, encompassing journalist, novelist, playwright, satirist, and musical composer, cannot begin to reveal the true identity of this complicated twentieth-century Renaissance man. Mercurial in his likes and dislikes, Nichols often executed remarkable professional turnabouts. In 1944, for instance, he followed his nonfiction work, Verdict in India, with the very popular children's book The Tree That Sat Down. Expect fans to ask for this fascinating portrayal of Nichols' life and times, with its continuous procession of celebrities and bon vivants. Alice Joyce --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews