AUTHOR OF THE MONTH: Beverley Nichols (1898-1983)
If you like gardening, or fixing up old houses, or laughing out loud (or all three), you are certain to enjoy reading books by Beverley Nichols.
A Renaissance man, he was not only a writer of books for both children and adults, but also a song writer and playwright, a pianist, an actor, a connoisseur of epicurean delights, a lover of cats and eventually a renowned gardening expert. He wrote over 50 books, and many of them were best sellers. For collectors, he is a fascinating focus because his writing covers such a vast array of subject areas (memoirs, politics, plays, travel, children’s books, mysteries, and more).
Today he is probably
best loved for his delightfully entertaining and informative books on his
experiences with renovating his homes and gardens in
His gardening books include:
Enjoy an excerpt from Laughter on the Stairs in which the author leads two of his overly helpful neighbor ladies through his newly renovated greenhouse:
The dead hand of Mr. Stebbing hung heavy over this conservatory when I first arrived. With devilish ingenuity he had contrived that the main drain from upstairs should be let through the roof, like a sort of pillar, so that it was apt to stun all who passed that way. At crucial moments it sent out embarrassing gurgles and hisses, usually when one was showing people geraniums. This drain has now been diverted, and bricked up with a square column, painted white. In summer it is covered with a riot of pale blue plumbago.
The removal of the drain was one of the few things which Miss Emily, from delicacy rather than from desire, was unable to deplore. When she first stepped into the conservatory on her way to the music-room she paused, flinched, and exclaimed:
‘Dear me…more changes! Now let me see, what have we done here?”
I could not think of any polite way of saying that I had removed the main drain from the upstairs lavatory, so I ignored the question.
‘Yes…what have we done?’ demanded Our Rose, who was standing by her side.
Miss Emily suddenly realized that her question was embarrassing. ‘Something structural, dear,’ she murmured.
‘Yes, but what?’
Miss Emily glared at her. ‘Structural, dear,’ she repeated.
‘But that might mean anything…’
‘Quite, dear,’ snapped Miss Emily. ‘It might.’ With which she passed through to the music-room...
And from the comical opening chapter of A Thatched Roof:
The low lintels of the cottage have many disadvantages, but they have one supreme advantage. They afford an immediate topic of conversation. They make things start, quite literally, with a bang.
Even the stiffest young guardsman—the type
that says, after a long pause, ‘…But my deal fellow, what about
A complete bibliography of all of Beverley Nichols’ books can be found at the website of Timber Press:
Timber Press has recently brought Nichols’ most loved gardening books back into print and they are available at their website. For the collectors among you who want first editions, the search is more challenging, and yet Beverley Nichols is a reasonably affordable author to collect, and certainly a rewarding one. Some of his books are usually available here at Old Scrolls Book Shop.