- Beverley Nichols by Bryan Connon
Constable, 320 pp, £20.00, March 1991, ISBN 0 00 947050 6
On 9 September 1983, Beverley Nichols spent the morning of his 85th birthday working on a poem about his birth. He called it ‘Lamplight’ because his mother had told him he was born at dusk. In the first verse he describes the scene: ‘shadows flit across the lawn,’ ‘roses fade,’ ‘stars, like silver sentinels, take up their watch.’ The second verse imagines the octogenarian Nichols hovering over the cradle with the power to spare or choke his infant self. The third would presumably have given us his decision, but he never finished it. Rising to his feet to look at something in his last garden, he collapsed, rallied temporarily in hospital, but died six days later.