By Bryan Connon
(Timber Press (OR), Paperback, 9781604690446, 344pp.)
Publication Date: January 2009
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Fame did not elude him, but greatness did. In his later years, Nichols was known chiefly for his books on gardens and cats, and he grew increasingly bitter about his failure to be accepted as a serious writer. Bryan Connon has written a fascinating study of a talented man in whom, in J. W. Lambert's phrase, a keen mind "functioned beneath the glad rags," and whose huge and diverse literary output chronicles the events, moods, and personalities of the fascinating age in which he lived.
This biography was first published in 1991 by Constable in the U.K., but its distribution was limited and it was never available in the United States. It will be of interest to the thousands of readers who have come to know Nichols through "Merry Hall"; they will discover an altogether more complex personality than the witty, sometimes sardonic persona he created in his writings.