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Durham e-Theses
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Norman Nicholson's Next-Door Nature: The Twentieth Century Cumberland Landscape and Twenty-First Century Climate Change

DAY, LAURA,ELIZABETH,ANN (2023) Norman Nicholson's Next-Door Nature: The Twentieth Century Cumberland Landscape and Twenty-First Century Climate Change. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 24 November 2026.


This thesis will examine the ways in which twentieth-century Cumberland poet Norman Nicholson (1914-1987) was an early prophet of the emergent climate crisis we are now living amidst in the twenty-first century. The thesis will explore major collections of Nicholson’s poetry, supplemented with quotations from his extensive prose work. Analysis will be offered through the medium of close readings of sections of Nicholson’s poetry, combined with ecocritical thought from several contemporary sources. There will also be exploration of Nicholson’s literary conversations with writers from across history, informed by his extensive book collection as was documented following his death.

Nicholson’s first poetry collection Five Rivers (1944) paved the way for the thematic concerns of his lifetimes’ body of work. Chiefly, the themes explored in this thesis are: the landscape as a form of human self-definition; interiority of the human condition; a conflict narrative between man and nature; and boundaries, edges and liminality. These themes permeate the remainder of Nicholson’s poetry collections after Five Rivers, which span his lifetime, beginning with his second collection from 1948 (Rock Face), and ending with his final collection (Sea to the West) from 1981.

This thesis will argue that Nicholson is an unacknowledged environmental and ecological champion of the twentieth-century poetic scene, who deserves recognition alongside the likes of his friends and colleagues including John Betjeman, T. S. Eliot, Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes. Arguably, Nicholson is a master environmental poet, and illuminates the devastating impact of man’s industrial pursuits, based on a life lived in his hometown of Millom in south Cumberland (now known as Cumbria).

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:ecopoetry, environmental poetry, twentieth century poetry, Norman Nicholson, Cumbria
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:27 Nov 2023 09:17

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