*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Nicholson’s network before the internet age

by
16 May 2014

iStock

From Mr David Boyd

Sir, - I refer to your recent content relating to the Cumbrian poet Norman Nicholson (Features, 28 March; Letters, 4 April).

It is all to the good that there has been some revived biographical and critical interest during this the centenary year of Nicholson's birth, but I have to express some regret, too, that much of this commentary overlooks the remarkable level of nationwide literary networking to which he avidly contributed.

Indeed, had computers and the internet and email existed in Nicholson's day, not only would much of his written communication have been rendered legible, but email traffic in and out of 14 St George's Terrace would have been immense.

A big chunk of this constant buzz of communication would have been with George Every (initially at Kelham, and he and his habitation no stranger to the pages of the Church Times), whose shadowy but profound influence on the entire literary life of those times is a story yet adequately to be told.

For example, Nicholson himself, despite his frail health and geographical isolation, was one of the driving forces during the early 1950s behind the work of St Anne's House in Soho, along with Every, T. S. Eliot, Dorothy L. Sayers, and many many more of the networked literati of the age.

Sadly for later researchers, both Nicholson and Every during the 1980s executed a mutual destruction pact to obliterate their vast mutual correspondence archive. Even at a conservative estimate of merely two letters exchanged between them per week, over about 40 years this would have amounted, had it still existed, to about 2000 letters held by each of them. The loss of all this material, I am sure, has contributed significantly to the fact that the part played by both Nicholson and Every in this regard has remained in obscurity.

DAVID BOYD
Richmond House, Brigg Road
Cumbria CA20 1NS

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear alongside your letter.

The Church Times Podcast

Interviews and news analysis from the Church Times team. Listen to this week’s episode online

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)