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Norman Nicholson’s work for the Church Times

by
04 April 2014

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From Dr Bernard Palmer

Sir, - Dr Martyn Halsall's admirable feature on Norman Nicholson (Features, 28 March) at once recalled for me Nicholson's invaluble services over many years as a Church Times reviewer of books on poets and poetry.

I cannot remember precisely when he was enrolled among the paper's reviewers, but he was certainly writing for me from the 1960s onwards - when I took over as Editor and abandoned the CT's practice of anonymous reviews - under his own name.

His reviews were always impeccable. He wrote with all the authority of an expert on his subject, but wore his learning lightly. He was immensely readable, even by those knowing little or nothing of poetry. The same qualities were apparent in his occasional feature articles, such as the masterly obituary of T. S. Eliot, which appeared in the issue of 8 January 1965, and ran to nearly 2000 words.

In those days before email, I acknowledged all reviews by letter. Nicholson responded to each of my letters with a chatty note accompanying his next review, and I felt I was getting to know him quite well. I met him on two or three occasions, and during a Lakeland holiday in the summer of 1976 I was entertained to a meal at his home in Millom, prepared by his charming wife, Yvonne. By the time of his death in 1987, though our acquaintance had been but slight, I regarded him as a real friend.

BERNARD PALMER
151 Rickstones Road
Witham, Essex CM8 2NH

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