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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Beverley Nichols

One of my favourite writers is Beverley Nichols (1898-1983), author, pianist, playwright and socialite. He wrote books on a diverse range of subjects including politics, travel, religion, detective mysteries, children's novels, his cats and autobiographies.

I particularly enjoyed 'Father Figure' in which he freely confesses to attempting to murder his alcoholic father several times, all of which failed. Although he describes the fear that his father inflicted upon the family, written in Nichols's own style, it becomes a hilarious and heartwarming read. Believe me! :O)

It's his books that he wrote about his house, garden and nature that I e
njoy the most however. Today, I'm not sure how many people remember or know about the writing of Beverley Nichols. If you enjoy reading uplifting books, sprinkled with lots of humour throughout that leave you feeling sorry when you've read the last page but feeling good, then you should seek out his novels. Luckily that wont be too difficult as Timber Press are offering re-prints of many of Beverley Nichols's books. Here's a direct link to those available.

Here also is an excerpt from his book, 'Laughter On The Stairs'.

"This fourth spring I went bird's-nesting, by which I do not mean crashing like a bison through the bushes, wrecking other people's houses. It was a question of watching, and listening, and, when the time came, of standing and staring. For the miracle of a bird's nest is almost the greatest miracle of all. Think of it like this....... An aery meeting, a flutter of feathers and then, before you know where you are, a beautiful house, perched in the branches of a tree.

That is only the beginning of it. Shortly, on the floor of the house, exquisite ornaments are deposited by unseen hands. These ornaments are light blue, or pale green, or speckled like a fritillary; they are oval in shape, and fashioned from the most delicate, fragile porcelain.

Even then the miracle has only just begun. For each of these ornaments contains music. Liquid music, sleeping music, disguised in the form of two magic fluids,
one gold and one white. Unwritten music, as yet, but music which one day will echo through the woods like distant flutes.

These ornaments
are filled with unwritten music. It is all there, 'tuning up'. There is the white and there is the yolk, and between the two of them there will one day be a bird, with a swelling throat and an eager heart, singing for you and me.

You may tell me that you could rhapsodizde, in the same way, about the e
mbryo of a baby. Perhaps you could. I couldn't. Having babies is in no way to be compared with depositing delicate pieces of porcelain in the branches of cherry trees. It is a far less decorative process. Whether it is a more useful one is open to question."

'Laughter On The Stairs', pages 151, 152

To find out more about Beverley Nichols, go here.
Timber Press publish books about gardening, ornamental and edible plants, garden design, sustainability, and natural history. For their UK website, go here.
For their Oregon USA website, go here.

"To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat."

Beverley Nichols


  1. 'Father Figure', sounds like my kind of night-time read Lesley! Thank you for bringing this writer to my attention.
    I actually must read more...but will have to probably stop writing first!!

  2. No, don't ever stop writing Gf! :D

  3. Lovely post dear Lesley,thank you, I had not heard of Beverly Nichols, I think I would enjoy reading his books. The excerpt you have provided us with shows a very sensitive man, more in tune with nature and his own feelings than most.
    I love that last quote, yes what a delectable form of defeat to surrender one's self to the fragrance of flowers. xoxoxo ♡

  4. I'm glad you enjoyed the post Dianne and I'm sure you would enjoy his books. They have me chuckling out loud and his descriptions of nature are a delight.

  5. How is it I have never heard of this incredibly gifted author???!!!

    "...delicate pieces of porcelain in the branches of cherry trees."

    That is exquisite writing! I'm checking Beverley Nichols out NOW. Thank you so much, Lesley, for letting us know about him!

  6. I'm sure you'll love his books Ethelmae.... especially the ones he wrote about his cats. :)