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This report is taken from PN Review 175, Volume 33 Number 5, May - June 2007.

Archive Corner 4: Making a Little Room an Everywhere Stella Halkyard
Norman Nicholson and the manuscript of 'The Pot Geranium'

On 6 July 1973 the poet, playwright, novelist, biographer, topographer and critic Norman Nicholson wrote to his cousin Doreen Cornthwaite:

While we were away, we had my room decorated for the first time for years, and on return, I have taken nearly a week discovering where I had hidden things in order to put them back. Among the things I have discovered was the ms of one of my early verse plays which I did not know I had. And as Northern Arts has been asking if they could buy one of my mss., this may help to pay for the holiday - especially as I have nothing else to offer them, all my remaining poetry mss now being in the British Museum, while all the other mss were destroyed before it occurred to me that anyone might want them.


The spectre of the long gone contents of a writer's bin conjured here by Nicholson would usually strike horror into the heart of a literary archivist. However, on this occasion, with steady hand and regular heartbeat I hold, with care, this onion-skin thin, typed sheet of paper, splattered with Nicholson's inky corrections, safe in the knowledge that its contents are not quite true. For, 34 years on, I know that the most extensive collection of Nicholsoniana resides in the care of the John Rylands Library in Manchester,1 including the poet's own Personal Papers and Book ...


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