Norman Nicholson (Norman Cornthwaite Nicholson) Biography
(1914–87), (Norman Cornthwaite Nicholson), Selected Poems, Five Rivers, Rock Face, The Pot Geranium, A Local Habitation
British poet, born in Millom, Cumberland, where he was educated at local schools and remained all his life. He was a schoolteacher for many years before becoming a full-time writer. Nicholson first attracted notice as a poet when his work appeared alongside poetry by J. C. Hall and Keith Douglas in Selected Poems (1943). Five Rivers (1944), his first independent collection, was followed by numerous further volumes which include Rock Face (1948), The Pot Geranium (1954), A Local Habitation (1972), in which freer verse-forms emerge in his work, and Sea to the West (1981). Nicholson's engagement with his native locality is pervasive; the topography, geology, and urban and industrial aspects of his surroundings provide themes and imagery for poems combining descriptive and contemplative elements in a fine balance. ‘The Pot Geranium’, one of his best-known poems, states the belief in the interpenetration of the near-at-hand and the cosmically inclusive that informs his best work. Selected Poems: 1940–1982 was published in 1982. The Christian metaphysics discernible in many poems are also integral to his verse-dramas, notably The Old Man of the Mountains (1946), and his critical writings, among which are Man and Literature (1943) and William Cowper (1951). His other works include a biography of H. G. Wells (1950), numerous books on the Lake District, and the novels The Fire of the Lord (1944) and The Green Shore (1947). An autobiography entitled Wednesday Early Closing appeared in 1975. See also topographical poetry.