Between his first book, the novel Prelude, published in 1920, and his last, a book of poetry, Twilight, published in 1982, Nichols wrote more than 60 books and plays. Besides novels, mysteries, short stories, essays and children's books, he wrote a number of non-fiction books on travel, politics, religion, cats, parapsychology, and autobiography. He wrote for a number of magazines and newspapers throughout his life, the longest being weekly columns for the London Sunday Chronicle newspaper (1932–1943) and Woman's Own magazine (1946–1967).
Nichols is now best remembered for his gardening books, the first of which, Down the Garden Path, was illustrated — as were its two sequels — by Rex Whistler. This bestseller — which has had 32 editions and has been in print almost continuously since first published in 1932 — was the first of his trilogy about Allways, his Tudor thatched cottage in Glatton, Cambridgeshire. The books are written in a poetic maner, with a rich, creative language, evoking emotional and sensual responses, but also with a lot of humor and even a hint of irony. A book about his city garden near Hampstead Heath in London, Green Grows the City, published in 1939, was another big best seller. That book introduced Arthur R. Gaskin, who was Nichols’s manservant from 1924 until Gaskin's death in 1966. Gaskin was a popular character, who also appeared in the succeeding gardening books. In a late book, Down the Kitchen Sink, dedicated in memory of Gaskin, Nichols said Gaskin's first name was Reginald, and in a late book by Wodehouse, that author gives Jeeves the first name Reginald. One may draw an obvious conclusion since Nichols and Wodehouse were well acquainted with each other.
Beverley Nichols was an author, playwright, journalist, composer, and public speaker. In 1932 he began to live with the actor Cyril Butcher, and their relationship lasted 53 years, until Nichols's death; Nichols's pleas for sexual tolerance were unusually vocal for the period, and are found throughout his writings. A trilogy written between 1951 and 1956 documents his travails renovating Merry Hall, a Georgian manor house in Agates Lane, Ashtead, Surrey, where Nichols lived from 1946 to 1956.
A later trilogy written between 1951 and 1956 documents Nichols's travails renovating Merry Hall (Meadowstream), a Georgian manor house in Agates Lane, Ashtead, Surrey, where Nichols lived from 1946 to 1956. These books often feature his gifted but laconic gardener "Oldfield". Nichols's final trilogy is referred to as "The Sudbrook Trilogy" (1963–1968) and concerns his late 18th-century attached cottage at Ham, (near Richmond), Surrey.
Nichols wrote on a wide range of topics, always looking for "the next big thing." As examples, he ghostwrote Dame Nellie Melba’s 1925 "autobiography" Memories and Melodies (he was at the time her personal secretary - his 1933 book Evensong was believed based on aspects of her life). In 1966 he wrote A Case of Human Bondage about the marriage and divorce of writer William Somerset Maugham and his interior-decorator wife, Syrie, which was highly critical of Maugham. Father Figure, which appeared in 1972 and in which he described how he had tried to murder his alcoholic and abusive father, caused a great uproar and several people asked for his prosecution. His book about spiritualism was not well received, which disappointed him.
His main interest apart from the writing of his books was gardening, especially garden design and winter flowers. Among his huge acquaintance in all walks of life, were many famous gardeners including Constance Spry and Lord Aberconway, who was President of the RHS and owner of the Bodnant garden in North Wales.
Nichols made one appearance on film - in 1931 he appeared in Glamour, directed by Seymour Hicks and Harry Hughes, playing the small part of the Hon. Richard Wells. The film is now lost.
He went to school at Marlborough College, and went to Balliol College, Oxford University, and was President of the Oxford Union and editor of Isis.
Nichols' life partner was Cyril Butcher. Nichols died in 1983. He is buried in Glatton, England.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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