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, especially in 2014, the centenary of his birth. 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 Black Combe in winter by Sue Dawson. 'Centenary' portrait of Norman Nicholson copyright Ray Troll. NN lines from 'The Seventeenth Of The Name' (1972).
'In Cleator Moor they dig for death'
Norman Nicholson's attitude to war and the way war influenced his writing were illustrated and debated at the Society's autumn event, Norman Nicholson: Visions of War and Peace at the Millom Network Centre.
Dr Martyn Halsall, Poet in Residence at Carlisle Cathedral, delivered a paper entitled Norman Nicholson's Wars - the theology of place in his poetry. He discussed not so much Nicholson's overtly Christian poems but the way his lifelong allegiance to both Christianity and a provincial location could be blended into what, Martyn argued, can be described as a 'theology of place'. He said: 'Out of this mingling of location and belief came a transposition through which Nicholson brought fresh insights, and renewed life, to a faith even then cooling in an increasingly secular society, like the slag banks after the steel works' closure.'
Dr Malcolm Morrison, a retired family doctor from Edinburgh and current President of the Melrose Literary Society, spoke on the subject Two Poets and a Composer - Response to War. The composer was Benjamin Britten and the poets Wilfred Owen and Norman Nicholson. Malcolm contrasted the very different fortunes of the three men during wartime - Owen, actively engaged in WW1 in 1917 and 1918, losing his life just a week before hostilities ceased; Britten, a pacifist who moved to the USA when WW2 broke out and later registered as a conscientious objector before composing his celebrated War Requiem; and Nicholson, not fit enough to join up in WW2, observing events from 'the perimeter and fringe of war,' as he put it in the poem that Malcolm highlighted, Waiting for Spring 1943.
Nicholson, Malcolm argued, is worthy of status as a 'war poet' and referenced two anthologies to support his claim, both from 1942. Poems of This War (edited by Patricia Ledward and Colin Strang, Cambridge University Press) includes Cleator Moor while Poetry in Wartime (edited by MJ Tambimuttu, Faber) includes five NN poems.
The afternoon also featured a walk to Millom's two war memorials, guided by Marshall Mossop, and discussion groups led by Antoinette Fawcett and Alan Beattie examining the Nicholson poems The Parable of the Sower (unpublished), Cleator Moor, and Bombing Practice.
pictures by JOHN TROLL
Nicholson events coming up in Millom, London and Manchester
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.
Our new feature discusses the language of Nicholson's poetry and celebrates the Northern English energies in his writing. Click HERE
Audio archive: discussing Nicholson
Click HERE to access our audio archive containing unedited interviews originally recorded for the Radio Cumbria documentary
Centenary events 2014
*Events marked with an asterisk are organised by the Norman Nicholson Society. This website publishes details of events promoted by other organisations in good faith but cannot accept responsibility should any details be inaccurate. If you know of any events which would interest members of the Society please let us know via the Contact Form.
Click here to find it.
St George's Church, Millom
photo copyright Millom Parochial Church Council
Norman Nicholson is buried in the churchyard of St George's, Millom. In 2000 a memorial window created by Christine Boyce was installed. The window depicts various scenes and themes from Norman's writings. An explanation can be found on the Cleo website (Cumbria and Lancashire Education Online).
To locate the grave of Norman and Yvonne Nicholson: walk past the church into the graveyard and turn right into the 'new' extended section facing Black Combe. Follow the path down round a hairpin bend and take the first paved path on the right. You'll see a seat placed with its back to the wall. The grave is directly in front of the seat.
Radio Cumbria conducted a series of interviews with members of the Society throughout the day of NN's centenary, January 8th 2014.
Click HERE to find the audio and then
click the orange 'play' arrow, top left.
The interviews are reproduced by kind
permission of BBC Radio Cumbria.
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!'
Millom Discovery Centre
NICHOLSON EXHIBITION: The refurbished Millom Discovery Centre contains a collection of artefacts, documents and memorabilia connected with Norman Nicholson. Click here for more on the Discovery Centre and here for a slideshow of the NN display.
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