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Adam Nicolson - Author

About the Author

Adam Nicolson is the author of many books on history, travel and the environment. He is winner of the Somerset Maugham Award and the British Topography Prize and lives at Sissinghust Castle in Kent. His other books include 'Arcadia' ('Earls of Paradise' in hardback), 'Men of Honour', 'Sea Room', 'Power and Glory' and 'Seamanship' and, most recently, 'Sissinghurst'.

Featured books by Adam Nicolson

Smell of Summer Grass Pursuing Happiness at Perch Hill

Smell of Summer Grass Pursuing Happiness at Perch Hill

Author: Adam Nicolson Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/02/2015

The Smell of Summer Grass is the story of the years spent in finding and building a personal idyll, sometimes a dream, sometimes a nightmare, by writer Adam Nicolson and his wife, cook and gardener, Sarah Raven. Without knowing one end of a hay baler from the other, Adam Nicolson and Sarah Raven, fed up with London and with life, escaped with his family to a run-down farm in the Sussex Weald. Looking for Arcadia, they found a mixture of intense beauty and profound chaos. Over three years they struggled with dock leaves, spring flowers, bloody-minded sheep and neighbours before eventually arriving at some kind of equilibrium. Funny, poetic, ironic and wise, 'The Smell of Summer Grass' is based partly on the long out of print 'Perch Hill'. It traces the growing intimacy between man and his chosen place, his love affair with it and his frustrations with its intractable realities. As an attempt to live out the pastoral vision, it makes one heartfelt plea: we should never abandon our dreams.

Other books by Adam Nicolson

The Making of Poetry

The Making of Poetry

Author: Adam Nicolson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/02/2020

SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD 2019 'This is a book of wonders' Sunday Times 'Spellbinding and intelligent' Financial Times 'Extraordinary and engrossing' Spectator It was the most extraordinary year. In a book brimming with poetry and nature writing, biography and adventure, Adam Nicolson walks in the footsteps of Coleridge, Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy during the months in the late 1790s they spent together in the Quantock Hills. Out of it came The Ancient Mariner, 'Kubla Khan', Lyrical Ballads and 'Tintern Abbey'; Coleridge's unmatched hymns to friendship and fatherhood; Wordsworth's revolutionary verses and paeans to the unity of soul and cosmos, love and understanding. In short, a poetry that sought to remake the world.

The Seabird's Cry

The Seabird's Cry

Author: Adam Nicolson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/04/2018

WINNER OF THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE 2018 WINNER OF THE JEFFERIES AWARD FOR NATURE WRITING 2017 The full story of seabirds from one of the greatest nature writers. The book looks at the pattern of their lives, their habitats, the threats they face and the passions they inspire - beautifully illustrated by Kate Boxer. Seabirds are master navigators, thriving in the most demanding environment on earth. In this masterly book, drawing on all the most recent research, Adam Nicolson follows them to the coasts and islands of Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, and the Americas. Beautifully illustrated by Kate Boxer, The Seabird's Cry is a celebration of the wonders of the only creatures at home in the air, on land and on the sea. It also carries a warning: the number of seabirds has dropped by two-thirds since 1950. Extinction stalks the ocean and there is a danger that the grand cry of a seabird colony will this century become little but a memory.

Seabird's Cry

Seabird's Cry

Author: Adam Nicolson Format: eBook Release Date: 01/06/2017

Seabirds have always entranced the human imagination and Adam Nicolson has been in love with them all his life: for their mastery of wind and ocean, their aerial beauty and the unmatched wildness of the coasts and islands where every summer they return to breed. Over the last couple of decades, modern science has begun to understand them: their epic voyages, their astonishing abilities to navigate for tens of thousands of miles on a featureless sea, their ability to smell their way towards fish and home. Only the poets in the past would have thought of seabirds as creatures riding the ripples and currents of the planet, but that is what the scientists are seeing now too. In ten chapters, each dedicated to a different bird, and each beautifully illustrated by Kate Boxer, The Seabird's Cry travels the ocean paths along with them, looking at the way their bodies work, the sense of their own individuality, the strategies and tactics needed to survive and thrive in the most demanding environment on earth. At the heart of the book are the Shiant Isles, a cluster of Hebridean islands in the Minch but Nicolson has pursued the birds much further - across the Atlantic, up the west coast of Ireland, to St Kilda, Orkney, Shetland, the Faeroes, Iceland and Norway; to the eastern seaboard of Maine and to Newfoundland, to the Falklands, South Georgia, the Canaries and the Azores - reaching out across the widths of the world ocean which is the seabirds' home. But a global tragedy is unfolding. Even as we are coming to understand them, the number of seabirds is in freefall, dropping by nearly 70% in the last sixty years, a billion fewer now than there were in 1950. Of the ten birds in this book, seven are in decline, at least in part of their range. Extinction stalks the ocean and there is a danger that the grand cry of a seabird colony, rolling around the bays and headlands of high latitudes, will this century become little but a memory.

The Iliad

The Iliad

Author: Adam Nicolson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/12/2015

Sea Room

Sea Room

Author: Adam Nicolson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 10/11/2015

The Mighty Dead

The Mighty Dead

Author: Adam Nicolson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 26/02/2015

Longlisted for the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction `A thrilling and complex book, enlarges our view of Homer ... There's something that hits the mark on every page' Claire Tomalin, Books of the Year, New Statesman Where does Homer come from? And why does Homer matter? His epic poems of war and suffering can still speak to us of the role of destiny in life, of cruelty, of humanity and its frailty, but why they do is a mystery. How can we be so intimate with something so distant? `The Mighty Dead' is a magical journey of discovery across wide stretches of the past, sewn together by some of the oldest stories we have - the great ancient poems of Homer and their metaphors of life and trouble. In this provocative and enthralling book, Adam Nicolson explains why Homer still matters and how these vital, epic verses - with their focus on the eternal questions about the individual versus the community, honour and service, love and war - tell us how we became who we are.

Mighty Dead

Mighty Dead

Author: Adam Nicolson Format: eBook Release Date: 26/02/2015

Longlisted for the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction`A thrilling and complex book, enlarges our view of Homer ... There's something that hits the mark on every page' Claire Tomalin, Books of the Year, New StatesmanWhere does Homer come from? And why does Homer matter? His epic poems of war and suffering can still speak to us of the role of destiny in life, of cruelty, of humanity and its frailty, but why they do is a mystery. How can we be so intimate with something so distant?`The Mighty Dead' is a magical journey of discovery across wide stretches of the past, sewn together by some of the oldest stories we have - the great ancient poems of Homer and their metaphors of life and trouble. In this provocative and enthralling book, Adam Nicolson explains why Homer still matters and how these vital, epic verses - with their focus on the eternal questions about the individual versus the community, honour and service, love and war - tell us how we became who we are.

The Mighty Dead

The Mighty Dead

Author: Adam Nicolson Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/05/2014

Where does Homer come from? And why does Homer matter? His epic poems of war and suffering can still speak to us of the role of destiny in life, of cruelty, of humanity and its frailty, but why they do is a mystery. How can we be so intimate with something so distant? In this passionate and deeply personal book, Adam Nicolson sets out to explain why these great ancient poems still have so much to say about what it is to be human, to love, lose, grow old and die. 'The Mighty Dead' is a journey of history and discovery, sewn together by the oldest stories we have - the Iliad and the Odyssey, which emerged from a time before the Greeks became Greek. As nomadic tribes of the northern steppe, they clashed with the sophisticated cities of the eastern Mediterranean. These poems tell us how we became who we are. We witness a disputatious dinner in 19th-century Paris and Keats finding in Chapman's Homer the inspiration to travel in the 'realms of gold'. We go to Bosnia in the 1930s, with the god of Homer studies Milman Parry where oral poetry still thrived; to Spain to visit the possible site of Hades; to Troy, Ukraine, Syria and the islands of the Mediterranean; and to that most ancient of modern experiences, the open sea, in calm and storm. Reflecting on fathers and sons, men and women, on the necessity for love and the violence of warriors, on peace and war, youth and old-age, Homer is the deep voice of Europe, as dark as Mavrodaphne and as glowingly alive as anything that has ever been.

Gentry

Gentry

Author: Adam Nicolson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 16/08/2012

Adam Nicolson tells the story of England through the history of fourteen gentry families - from the 15th century to the present day. This sparkling work of history reads like a real-life Downton Abbey, as the loves, hatreds and many times of grief of his chosen cast illuminate the grand events of history. We may well be `a nation of shopkeepers', but for generations England was a country dominated by its middling families, rooted on their land, in their locality, with a healthy interest in turning a profit from their property and a deep distrust of the centralised state. The virtues we may all believe to be part of the English culture - honesty, affability, courtesy, liberality - each of these has their source in gentry life cultivated over five hundred years. These folk were the backbone of England. Adam Nicolson's riveting new book concentrates on fourteen families, from 1400 to the present day. From the medieval gung-ho of the Plumpton family to the high-seas adventures of the Lascelles in the eighteenth century, to more modern examples, the book provides a chronological picture of the English, seen through these intimate, passionate, powerful stories of family saga. Drawing on a wealth of unpublished archive material, here is a vivid depiction of the life and code of the gentry. `The Gentry' is first and foremost a wonderful sweep of English history, shedding light on the creation of the distinctive English character but with the sheer readability of an epic novel.

Gentry

Gentry

Author: Adam Nicolson Format: eBook Release Date: 27/10/2011

Prize-winning author Adam Nicolson tells the story he was born to write - the real story of England. It is the gentry that has made England what it was and, to a degree, still is. In this vivid, lively book, history has never been more readable. We may well be `a nation of shopkeepers', but for generations England was a country dominated by its middling families, rooted on their land, in their locality, with a healthy interest in turning a profit from their property and a deep distrust of the centralised state. The virtues we may all believe to be part of the English culture - honesty, affability, courtesy, liberality - each of these has their source in gentry life cultivated over five hundred years. These folk were the backbone of England. Adam Nicolson's riveting new book concentrates on fourteen families with a time-span from 1400 to the present day. From the medieval gung-ho of the Plumpton family to the high-seas adventures of the Lascelles in the 18th-century, to more modern examples, the book provides a chronological picture of the English, seen through these intimate, passionate, powerful stories of family saga. The families have been selected from all over the country and range from the famous to the unknown. Some families are divided by politics , such as the family that took different sides in the Reformation; others destroy their inheritance through reckless gambling or investments . All of them are vivid depictions of the life and code of the gentry, and have left deep archives of family papers which the author has been able to use, often for the very first time. THE GENTRY is first and foremost a wonderful sweep of English history. It presents a convincing argument on what has created the distinctive English character but with the sheer readability of an epic novel.

Sissinghurst

Sissinghurst

Author: Adam Nicolson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/09/2009

A fascinating account from award-winning author Adam Nicolson of the history of Nicolson's own national treasure, his family home: Sissinghurst. Sissinghurst is world-famous as a place of calm and beauty, a garden slipped into the ruins of a rose-pink Elizabethan palace. But is it entirely what its creators intended? Has its success over the last thirty years come at a price? Is Sissinghurst everything it could be? The story of this piece of land, an estate in the Weald of Kent, is told here for the first time from the very beginning. Adam Nicolson, who now lives there, has uncovered remarkable new findings about its history as a medieval manor and great sixteenth-century house, from the days of its decline as an eighteenth-century prison to a flourishing Victorian farm and on to the creation, by his grandparents Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson, of a garden in a weed-strewn wreck. Alongside his recovery of the past, Adam Nicolson wanted something else: for the land at Sissinghurst to live again, to become the landscape of orchards, cattle, fruit and sheep he remembered from his boyhood. Could that living frame of a mixed farm be brought back to what had turned into monochrome fields of chemicalised wheat and oilseed rape? Against the odds, he was going to try. This paperback edition will be fully updated to cover the first year of Adam Nicolson's endeavour to revive the estate and return it to the glories of its past. More than just a personal biography of a place, this book is the story of taking an inheritance and steering it in a new direction, just as an entrepreneur might take hold of a company, or just as all of us might want to take our dreams and make them real.

Arcadia

Arcadia

Author: Adam Nicolson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 19/02/2009

A fascinating depiction from award-winning author, Adam Nicolson, of a family and a country on the hinge of modernisation. Was our country once a better place? Has modernisation destroyed as much as it has improved? And can we see in an earlier Britain a way of living, an Arcadia, which now seems both ideal and remote? Through 16th- and 17th-century England, the changes of an approaching modernity accelerated. With the growing power of the state, the disruption of the traditional bonds of society, the breaking of communities and the marginalisation of the great families who had once balanced the power of the crown, the new mercantile, individualist world increasingly clashed with the communal and chivalric ideals of the old. To tell this story from the 1520s to the 1640s, Adam Nicolson takes a single great family, the Earls of Pembroke, their wives, children, estates, tenants and allies, and follows their high and glamorous trajectory across three generations of change, nostalgia, ambition, resistance and war. `Arcadia' is a rich and detailed evocation of England on the hinge of medieval and modern, and in this wide-ranging book Adam Nicolson explores a world in transition, moving from the intrigues, alliances and vendettas of the court to the intricate, everyday business of rural communities managing their affairs in times of stress. It was an England caught up in its first taste of modernity, yet divided over how to react to it, split between the old and the new, the moment at which the world we have lost turned into the world it has now become.

Sea Room

Sea Room

Author: Adam Nicolson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 17/06/2002

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be given your own remote islands? Thirty years ago it happened to Adam Nicolson. Aged 21, Nicolson inherited the Shiants, three lonely Hebridean islands set in a dangerous sea off the Isle of Lewis. With only a stone bothy for accommodation and half a million puffins for company, he found himself in charge of one of the most beautiful places on earth. The story of the Shiants is a story of birds and boats, hermits and fishermen, witchcraft and catastrophe, and Nicolson expertly weaves these elements into his own tale of seclusion on the Shiants to create a stirring celebration of island life.

Field Days

Field Days

Author: Adam Nicolson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/01/1990

Now, when this unwritten history of our relationship with the land is under persistent attack from development, agrochemicals and genetic engineering, poetry raises questions about the real partnership between humankind and nature that fields represent. This anthology brings together the work of more than ninety poets, ancient and modern, including Wendell Berry, John Betjeman, John Burnside, Helen Dunmore, Ivor Gurney, Seamus Heaney, Elizabeth Jennings, John Keats, Alice Oswald, Kathleen Raine and Walt Whitman.

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