Long Barn, Long Barn Rd, Sevenoaks Weald, Sevenoaks TN14, UK
Knole House, Sevenoaks TN15 0RP, UK
Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Biddenden Rd, Cranbrook TN17 2AB, Regno Unito
Eton College, Windsor SL4 6DW, UK
University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3PA
Sissinghurst Cemetery, Sissinghurst, Cranbrook TN17, UK
Nigel Nicolson OBE (19 January 1917 – 23 September 2004) was an English writer, publisher and politician. He was a marginal member of the Bloomsbury Group.
Nicolson was the second son of writers Sir Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West; he had an elder brother Ben, an art historian. The boys grew up in Kent, first at Long Barn, near their mother's ancestral home at Knole, and then at Sissinghurst Castle, where their parents created a famous garden. Nicolson was sent to board at Summer Fields, a prep school in Oxford; he then attended Eton College and Balliol College, Oxford. During World War II he served with the Grenadier Guards, later writing their official history.
In 1953 Nicolson married Philippa, the daughter of Sir Gervais Tennyson d'Eyncourt, and they had two daughters, Rebecca, a publisher, Juliet, a historian, and a son, Adam, a writer. Juliet has written about her father and his ancestors in A House Full of Daughters (2016). Adam has revived the home farm at Sissinghurst. Nigel and Philippa divorced in 1970.
Nicolson wrote many books. He and George Weidenfeld co-founded the publishing house Weidenfeld & Nicolson, of which he was a director from 1948 to 1992. He also worked as a broadcaster and was a member of the Ancient Monuments Board. Although his father had been first a National Labour and then a Labour politician, Nigel Nicolson became active in the Conservative Party and contested Leicester North West in 1950 and Falmouth and Camborne in 1951, without success. He was elected Member of Parliament for Bournemouth East and Christchurch at a by-election in February 1952, when the previous MP, Brendan Bracken, was elevated to the House of Lords. Nicolson was re-elected in the seat in the general election of May 1955. However, he was uncomfortable within the Tory party and voted with Labour to abolish hanging and abstained in a vote of confidence in the government over the Suez Crisis. His constituency association called for him to resign and wrote to the Prime Minister briefing against their MP. A ballot of members was called. Unfortunately for Nicolson, a controversy relating to his publishing interests broke a few years later – the company's decision to publish the British edition of Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita in 1959. Nicolson lost the members' vote and was forced to step down at the general election of October 1959. Nicolson returned to writing, particularly on heritage and biography. He co-wrote a celebrated 1973 book on his parents, Portrait of a Marriage. It balanced a frank account of his bisexual parents' extramarital affairs (especially Vita Sackville-West's 'elopement' with Violet Trefusis) with their enduring love for each other; it caused an uproar when it was published. He edited his father's diaries and, with Joanne Trautmann, the letters of Virginia Woolf. Later he wrote the "Long Life" column for The Spectator, and a Time of My Life column for The Sunday Telegraph. His autobiography, Long Life, was published in 1997.
Nicolson died on 23 September 2004, at Sissinghurst Castle, in Kent.
Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent
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