BEVERLEY NICHOLS, British author, born (d: 1983); At the age of twenty-five, Beverley Nichols was famous, his successful book, appropriately called Twenty-Five, praised as representing the spirit of the Twenties. Ted Morgan’s thumbnail sketch in his biography of Somerset Maugham is letter perfect: “Beverley was pretty ‒ he looked like a faun escaped from the woods.”
Beverley was amusing. While at Balliol he had convulsed the Oxford Union with the facetious remark that ‘women should have the courage of their complexions.’…Beverley was facile, and could write a two thousand word interview based on a two-minute meeting. Beverley was flamboyant, like young Byron was flamboyant. Beverley was homosexual…” Still, Nichols books are well worth reading. He may be lah-de-dah, but he’s frequently quite funny and his books on gardening, in particular, are quite lovely.
Nichols is perhaps best remembered as a writer for Woman’s Own and for the gardening books, the first of which Down the Garden Path, was illustrated — as were many of his books — by Rex Whistler. This bestseller — which has had thirty-two editions and has been in print almost continuously since 1932 — was the first of his trilogy about Allways, his Tudor thatched cottage in Cambridgeshire.
Nichols was a prolific author who wrote on a wide range of topics. He ghostwrote soprano Dame Nellie Melba’s “autobiography” Memories and Melodies (1925), and in 1966 he wrote A Case of Human Bondage about the marriage and divorce of W. Somerset Maugham and Gwendoline Maud Syrie Barnardo, 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 autobiographies usually feature Arthur R. Gaskin who was Nichols’ manservant from 1924 until Gaskin’s death from cirrhosis in 1966. Nichols made one appearance on film – in 1931 he appeared in Glamour directed by Seymour Hicks and Harry Hughes playing the part of the Hon. Richard Wells. Nichols’ long-term life partner was Cyril Butcher.