Diaries and Letters Vol. 2 (1939-1945)

Harold Nicolson
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ISBN 9780571250479 Format Paperback
Published 19/03/2009 Length 526 pages

About Book

Harold Nicolson's Diaries and Letters, spanning the years 1930 to 1962, were first published in three volumes, and it is in this format Faber Finds is reissuing them. The one-volume abridgement available in paperback from Phoenix is practical, and in itself a superb piece of compression, but such a great work, one of the major diaries of the twentieth-century, deserves also to be available in its full original incarnation.

This is the war volume. From the first page to the last Britain was at war. From 1940 to 1941 Harold Nicolson was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Information; subsequently he was a Governor of the B. B.C. Throughout he was in the perfect position to observe and describe, knowing the chief actors, Churchill, de Gaulle, Eden and many others. He experienced with acute anxiety and mounting excitement the fluctuating fortunes of the war, and came to share a mood of unreasoning faith and simple patriotism with the rest of the country. In July of 1940 he wrote, 'I have always loved England. But now I am in love with England. What a people! What a chance! . . . The chance that by out stubbornness we shall give victory to the world.'

'One stops to marvel at the achievement. Honesty, decency, modesty magnanimity are stamped on every page, as evident as the wit. These are not the normal virtues of successful diarists or would-be politicians, but Harold Nicolson possesses them all.' Michael Foot, Evening Standard

'He remains completely unaware that he is tapping out a masterpiece. Brilliant though he is as historian and man of letters, the diary will keep him best remembered. As lively as Creevey or the de Goncourts, Sir Harold is a peer of those classics. Mr Nigel Nicolson has again done a superb job of editing and annotating.' A. P. Ryan, The Times

  • About Harold Nicolson

    Harold Nicolson (1886-1968) was a man of manifold talents: a diplomat, politician, journalist, broadcaster, historian, biographer, diarist, novelist, lecturer, literary critic, essayist and gardener. Perhaps most celebrated for his Diaries (reissued by Faber Finds in their original three volumes), they run the risk of obscuring the excellence of his other books. He wrote over thirty: Some People, Sir Arthur Nicolson, Peacemaking, 1919, Curzon, The Last Phase, 1919-1925, and The Congress of Vienna are all being reissued in Faber Finds.

    Harold Nicolson was educated at Wellington and at Balliol College, Oxford. He joined the Foreign Office in 1909, and in 1913 married the writer Vita Sackville-West. He was a member of the British delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919. He left the Foreign Office in 1929, and in 1935 he was elected National Labour Member of Parliament for West Leicester. In 1940 he was appointed a Junior Minister in Churchill's wartime government.

    In his eulogy, John Sparrow, with affectionate aptness, described Harold Nicolson as 'a nineteenth-century Whig leading an eighteenth-century existence in the twentieth-century.'

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