Beverley Nichols

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Beverley Nichols
Beverley Nichols (John Beverley Nichols, 1898–1983) was a writer and gardener and sometimes an actor and broadcaster.

He was born in Bower Ashton, Bristol and educated at Marlborough College and Balliol College, Oxford where he was President of the Oxford Union and edited the university magazine, Isis.

When young his good looks made him one of the most photographed men of his time. His writing made it possible for him to have an expensive life style.

He met Godfrey Winn through his theatrical contacts and their paths crossed over a number of years. They became rivals as newspaper columnists, but still continued an arkward friendship and visited each other's houses. They broke up when Beverley Nichols wrote A Case of Human Bondage (1966), which appeared to be critical of Somerset Maugham who had been Godfrey Winn's lover for a time.

He appeared as the Hon Richard Wells in the film Glamour in 1931. His most commercially successful writing was his book Down the Garden Path (illustrated by Rex Whistler), which is regarded as a gardening classic. Over the years he wrote a series of books about the gardens of the various houses he had lived in, including Green grows the City and Merry Hall.

He involved himself in campaigns against such things as the poor treatment of African Americans in the 1950s. He also challenged anti-homosexual legislation and homophobic behaviour. He took part in a number of radio broadcasts, like Not Only Down the Garden Path in three parts in March 1983.

He had a partner for 40 years and was relatively open about his sexuality in public lectures, though not in his radio broadcasts. However, his demeanour gave a lot away. Notwithstanding his relationship, he had a promiscuous sex life, including his penchant for rough trade and masochistic sex.

In 1972 he published Father Figure, in which he described how he had tried to murder his alcoholic and abusive father.

On September 16, 1983, the day after his death, a celebration of his life took place at St Paul's, Covent Garden, the "Actors' Church". Ned Sherrin had arranged a programme of Beverley Nichols's work.

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Partly based on an article on the Koymasky website.