|Norman Cornthwaite Nicholson is buried in St
George's churchyard Millom, Cumbria, England.
Grave of Norman
Photo by David Boyd
With the exception of a few years spent in a
TB sanatorium when he was a teenager, Nicholson
spent the whole of his life in Millom. (There is a
plaque outside his former home at 14, St. George's
Terrace.) At the age of 22 he converted to Christianity
which proved a major influence on his writing.
However, it was the town of Millom and its supporting
iron industry which was to prove his overriding
inspiration. He understood intimately the tough lives
of those who worked in the quarries and the furnaces and
even experienced the loss of his own uncle in the Hodbarrow Mines. In later years, he witnessed the
decline of the iron
industry and the distress caused to the largely
working class community. One of his finest poems is
entitled: On the Dismantling of Millom Ironworks.
Nicholson, like fellow Lake Poet
Wordsworth, was also adept at capturing the
bleak beauty of the landscape - in particular,
Black Combe, a fell lying in the southern Lakes close
to the town of Millom - which provided the subject
matter for his 1978
collection The Shadow of Black Combe.
His other collections include: Five Rivers (1944),
The Pot Geranium (1954), A Local Habitation
(1972) and Sea to the West (1981). He also wrote
two novels, four verse plays, various criticism and an
engaging autobiography Wednesday Early Closing
Like Charles Causley,
outside the major literary movements of the day -
quietly producing powerful, colloquial poetry. His
work has certainly not received the attention it
deserves and is, surely, ripe for re-discovery.
In 1956 he married Yvonne Gardener - who lies nest to
him in St. George's. He died on May 30, at the age of 73.
A commemorative stained glass window, designed by
Christine Boyce, was installed in St George's - the church
where he worshipped.