Nigel Nicolson Profile

Nigel Nicolson

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Profile

19 January 1917 – 23 September 2004

Nigel Nicolson OBE was a British writer, publisher and politician.

Son of the writers Sir Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West, Nicolson grew up at his mother's ancestral home at Knole and then at Sissinghurst, and was educated at Summer Fields, Eton and Balliol College, Oxford. He served with the Grenadier Guards during WWII, later writing their official history, and co-founded the publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson, of which he was a director from 1948-1992.

Nicolson was elected Conservative MP for Bournemouth East in 1952, and was re-elected in the seat in 1955, but faced calls for resignation after voting with Labour on the abolition of hanging, and abstaining in a vote of confidence in the government over the  Suez War. At the same time, Weidenfeld & Nicolson published Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita, and the ensuing scandal forced Nicolson to step down at the 1959 general election.

Returning to writing in the 1960s, Nicolson published several books, particularly in the fields of heritage, biography and autobiography. In 1973 he co-wrote the celebrated and controversial book Portrait of a Marriage, which balanced a frank account of his parents' extramarital affairs with their enduring love for each other. He also edited various works including his father's diaries, his parents’ letters to each other, and co-edited the letters of Virginia Woolf. Later, he wrote The Spectator's ‘Long Life’ column and a ‘Time of My Life’ column for The Sunday Telegraph.