Welcome to the website of the Norman Nicholson Society. The site aims to provide information about Nicholson and his work and encourage the study and enjoyment of this remarkable man's writings. Here you will also find information about the NN Society which holds regular events and publishes the newsletter Comet. The Society is based in Millom, on the banks of the River Duddon and in the shadow of Black Combe (pictured), and has a worldwide membership.
New members are warmly welcomed.
Header picture of the Millom Ironworks slagbank.
NN lines from 'On the Dismantling of Millom Ironworks'.
Norman Nicholson was born in Millom, Cumbria, in 1914 and lived there until his death in 1987 with the exception of two years in his late teens when he was sent to a sanatorium in Hampshire to recover from tuberculosis - an event which shaped his subsequent life. His writing career lasted from 1930 until his death and embraced plays, poetry, novels, criticism and essays. He is best known for his poetry and was awarded the Queens Medal for Poetry in 1977 and the OBE in 1981.
NEWS, DISCUSSION AND CHAT
Melvyn on Youtube
The BBC TV documentary 'From Wigton to Westminster' which featured the life and career of the Society's president Melvyn Bragg is now available to watch on Youtube. Here's the link. It was first broadcast in July.
Festive lunch enjoyed by all
Charlie Lambert on BBC Radio Cumbria
Our new chair Charlie Lambert was interviewed on BBC Radio Cumbria on Friday November 20th. Asking the questions was presenter Gordon Swindlehurst, a self-confessed Nicholson enthusiast. The chat aired during Gordon's lunchtime show. You can hear the interview on our Soundcloud HERE.
The Society's new chair
He said: “Norman Nicholson was an outstanding poet who had the ability to touch the heart and the conscience. His view of the world – whether the world on his doorstep in Millom or the wider universe – was original, perceptive, humorous and heartfelt. Yet he never received due credit from the metropolitan so-called elite. I feel extremely honoured to have become chair of the Society and I will do all I can to promote the works of Nicholson and to further the aims of the Society. I would also like to pay tribute to Ian Davidson for his excellent work on behalf of the Society; we all owe him a debt of gratitude.”
Charlie was born in Windermere and gained a degree in English from Bristol University. He spent 20 years on the staff of the BBC, becoming sports correspondent for the TV programme Northwest Tonight as well as broadcasting regularly on Radio 4 and Radio 5. He is currently senior lecturer in broadcast journalism at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston. He lives in Liverpool.
'It's mending worse...'
We were pleased to see that Hilary Mantel selected Nicholson's poem 'Old Man at a Cricket Match' for a Remembrance Weekend feature in Saturday's Guardian. Find it HERE.
More Tales from a Small Town
The Millom Writers group, run by NN Society member Ron Creer, has just had its third collection of work published. It is being launched at Millom Network Centre on November 6th at 2pm. All Society members are welcome to go along.
"A word which would once have been on every Viking’s lips, but which has now shrunk back to the fringes – to Iceland, the Faeroes, and Lakeland." Word of the Month for October by Kathleen Morris - find it here.
Alan and Kay Beattie performed the play The Fell-Whisperers, written by Alan, at the Society's Autumn Event on Saturday. The play contained three dialogues which dramatised Nicholson's relationship with fellow poet Kathleen Raine and the artists Sheila Fell and Percy Kelly. There's a report on our Events page.
posted 12/10/15 pictures by JOHN TROLL
Glamming it up in Manchester
Antoinette Fawcett, secretary of the Norman Nicholson Society, will speak about Nicholson at a meeting of GLAM - Group for Literary Archives and Manuscripts - at the John Rylands Library, University of Manchester, on Thursday October 1st. Fran Baker, custodian of the Nicholson archive held at the Library, will also speak.
Nicholson WILL rock Coventry!
The fund-raising scheme launched to help organise a second performance of Seven Rocks, composed by Harry Whalley for Norman Nicholson’s centenary last year, has hit the target!
Members of the NN Society were among those who backed the campaign which targeted £380 and currently exceeds £420. It means Seven Rocks will be performed by the outstanding Gildas Quartet, as planned, at the INTIME symposium at the University of Coventry on Saturday October 24th.
Harry says that the surplus funds will go towards financing a new composition based on a Nicholson poem.
Please help this musical interpretation of Nicholson's work
A funding campaign has been launched to enable a second performance of Harry Whalley’s composition Seven Rocks, composed for Norman Nicholson’s centenary last year.
Harry, who teaches at Edinburgh University, has been accepted for the annual INTIME Symposium at Coventry University, on October 24th 2015, to give both a presentation and a performance of the Seven Rocks suite, which received its premiere performance at St. George’s Church, Millom last May, with support from the Britten-Pears Foundation.
It was always the intention to aim for further performances of the work, and this conference represents a marvellous opportunity to give the composition a further hearing to a new and influential audience. However, not only are there conference fees to pay, the performers of the composition, three members of the well-regarded young Gildas Quartet, also need to be paid for their work. They have agreed to perform the piece at the Symposium for a reduced fee, but there is still a lot of money to find in a short time to make this happen.
Harry has written about the piece as follows:
Harry needs to raise about £450 to cover the cost of the trio. To that end he has started a ‘Kickstarter’ campaign to raise the necessary money. Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative projects. It works like this:
- You go to the Kickstarter website.
- You then read about the project and choose a level of pledge you are happy with (currently: £5.00 or more; £12.00 or more; £45 or more; or £400 or more). Each of these levels of pledge carries a ‘reward’ (including a signed copy of the score);
- Follow the web page instructions as to what to do next.
Harry has stressed that if the campaign raises more money than his target, the surplus will be used to help fund a new Nicholson composition (perhaps a song). Click here to go to the site.
Nicholson features in travel guide
Norman Nicholson - a Literary Life
Norman Nicholson - a Literary Life by David Boyd, a long-standing member of the Norman Nicholson Society, has just been published by Seascale Press Ltd. It's available by post or as a Kindle download. Full details and order form HERE. As a taster of David's writing, here's a link to an article he wrote for the New York online literary review nycBigCityLit.com. Congratulations to David on completing this highly-anticipated work and good luck with the all-important sales!
From Wigton to Westminster
Melvyn Bragg, the Society's president, was the subject of last night's 75-minute documentary 'From Wigton to Westminster,' on BBC2. The programme, produced by Olivia Liechtenstein, tells the story of Melvyn's life, relationships and work in intriguing and revealing detail. It also includes wonderful archive of Wigton. It's available on Youtube here
posted 19/7/15, updated 23/11/15
Off to study Nicholson in India
The Society has been contacted by an editor from Macmillan Publishing (India) who wants to use the Norman Nicholson poem Off To Outer Space in the Morning in texts for schools in India. We're delighted to hear of this interest in Nicholson's work and hope that Macmillan are successful in obtaining the necessary copyright clearance in order to go ahead.
The Society's Summer Event
Members and friends took part in a day of dry-stone walling and felting linked to discussion of Nicholson's poem 'Wall' on Saturday June 27th. Please visit our Events page for a full report and more pictures.
Nicholson and geology
There's a fascinating and informative article about Nicholson's use of geology in his writing on the website of The Geological Society, written by NN Society member Brian Whalley. Brian includes this quote from Nicholson: "In no other part of England has the life and character of a district and its people been so controlled by the nature of the rock and by the forces which acted upon it."
The article mentions Millom Rock Park which is just outside the town and well worth a visit if you're interested in the geological make-up of the area.
The Pot Geranium still resonates
Hello everyone at the Norman Nicholson Society!
I am reading and enjoying ‘Selected Poems’ by Norman Nicholson. I remember ‘The Pot Geranium’ from reading it at school. It resonated with me as I was often ill as a child and had to spend a lot of my time at home. It still does, as I now have M.E. and other disabilities.
By the way, there are a number of words in the poems that I didn’t know. I have had to look up nearly 30 of them in the dictionary. Some of them turned out to be dialect. A few were not even in the dictionary at all, specifically:
Perhaps you can enlighten me?
Also by the way, I am a writer myself. I once self-published a book of poetry: ‘Bush Into Bear’.
Our thanks to Jimmy for getting in touch via the Contact page.
The Society is contributing to the Flower Festival, to be held at St George's Church, Millom, this bank holiday weekend (May 22-25). INSPIRE is the festival's theme, described as a 'celebration of the Spirit in flowers, music and worship.'
Our committee members Peggy Troll, Dot Richardson and Sue Dawson have created a floral display based on a passage from 'Provincial Pleasures' p 91: 'The sun wanders about the church as if it belonged there. As, indeed it does, for the building is a product of the sun, being made of the red desert sandstone which lies beside the slate all along the Cumberland coast'. View a slideshow of our display:
Festival opening times: Friday, Saturday and Monday 10am - 4pm, Sunday 11am - 2pm and 4pm - 6pm. Church services and events: Saturday at 7.30pm PHOENIX SINGERS. Sunday at 9.30am PARISH COMMUNION. Sunday at 6pm SONGS OF PRAISE. Monday at 4pm ORGAN RECITAL by Mike Smith.
Peggy will read the poem 'Weeds' at the Phoenix Singers service - a fitting reminder of Nicholson's individual outlook on what most of us take for granted.
posted 19/5/15, updated 22/5/15
Top photos and poems
The Western Lake District website ran a photography and poetry competitions to celebrate Norman Nicholson's centenary. View the winning entries here
Contact Us / Become a Member
New members of the Norman Nicholson Society are warmly welcomed. Annual subscription is £12, or £18 for couples and £6 youth. Please contact us via the Contact page
Norman Nicholson's Cumbria
We're on Facebook
Keep in touch and join in the chat. Log onto Facebook and type into the Search box Norman Nicholson Society
Inspiring youngsters today
This photographic interpretation of Nicholson's poem 'Windscale' by pupils of Millom School shows how his writing inspires young people today. See more in 'Our Page!'
For previous posts please visit our News Archive.