Norman Nicholson’s Lakeland

A Prose Anthology

Poet Norman Nicholson, 1914-1987, lived for most of his life in a Victorian terrace house in the small industrial town of Millom. He was published by T. S. Eliot at Faber and Faber and became one of the leading poets and verse dramatists of his generation.

He was elected to the Royal Society of Literature in 1945. His many awards included five honorary degrees from British universities, the Queen’s Award for Poetry in 1977, and the OBE in 1981. Many regard him as the finest Cumbrian poet since Wordsworth.

Edited by Irvine Hunt.
Drawings by Bill Wilkinson

 

“Nicholson is in the direct tradition of Wordsworth and deeply refreshing.” – Melvyn Bragg

“Inspiring devotion, affection and scrupulous care gleams from each thing he shows us.” – Ted Hughes

 

A Howl of Protest

Norman as childBoy in a white sailor suit. The photographer little knew as he took this picture back in l919 that this Cumberland lad was destined to become one of Lakeland’s fine poets.

Norman Nicholson was about five years old as he sat in Hargreave’s studio in Dalton in Furness with this bowl and clay pipe. The pose was a popular one with the photographers, if not with the sitters, and was prompted by the portrait Bubble, by Sir John Millais, a painting which became famous as a Pears Soap advertisement.

Norman, in his engaging autobiography, Wednesday Early Closing, recalls that the basin in his lap was cold against his legs and he launched a howl of protest. Hastily a piece of newspaper was put between the bowl and his legs and soon he was ‘gazing upwards with hypnotised attention’ at a huge soap bubble which, in fact, was not there for it was added in afterwards by the photographer.

“Yet to my mother, that bubble was perhaps more real than anything else in the picture . . .”

 

Norman is mentioned elsewhere on this website. See Lakeland Yesterday Vol I, a book of period photographs.

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