The Books of Mary Nicholson

These books were written under a number of pseudonyms
Some of these books can be downloaded here free of charge


Published 1932

This is a first novel with freshness and distinction.

The author handles two generations with uncanny understanding. A tormented intellectual parson, like the undergraduates discussing reality in the early works of E.M. Forster, attempts to root himself in kind earth by marrying Ellen out of the village shop. He dies, leaving Ellen to a vigorous middle-age. Their son, one of the few convincing vagabonds in fiction, is alive as a spark in brushwood; and his brief passion for Cathie (who also has come to "root herself in reality" by leaving her Putney family and her typewriter to run the Post Office in a country village) leads up to the gay vigour of the novel's end.
(Dust jacket description}

Selected reviews
Miss Martin possesses a powerful and original imagination .......Sublunary inspires the reader with mingled far, admiration, and respect, and he awaits the author's next book with interest. (L.P. Hartley, Week-end Review)
Has the stuff of a really powerful novel in it, and for a first book it may fairly be reckoned as a notable achievement. ((Truth)



This 'essay' should be read by everyone about to marry, and by all those who have entered the married state. Here is warning, instruction, and entertainment, set out with both wit and insight.

The dedication reads:


Download "Essay on Marriage" (pdf - 131 kb)

LAUGH OR CRY by Mary Crawford

Mary Crawford has successfully drawn a picture of a group of men and women and their problems which is worldly wise and yet done with feeling. Its narrator is a lively and resourceful woman married to a busy and successful barrister with political ambitions. Their daughter is almost grown-up, and their marriage under the strain of divergent interests has reached a difficult phase. This is true too of the marriage of their friends Stephen and Claudia. An attraction which has long been latent now intensifies, and the consequence is a situation far less elementary than the usual triangle.
As she tells her love-story, the narrator at first persuades herself that she can solve the classic conflict between love and duty by a series of compromises. But an ironic discovery reveals that she has not been so successful as she liked to think, and sets the conflict itself in a new light For it appears that her affections are divided, and that her good intentions have been vitiated by vanity and self-love. Finally, when she despairs of herself and her future, the influence of the younger generation makes itself felt, and the balance of several lives is restored. (Dust jacket description}

Selected reviews
The scene moves from town to country, from studio to drawing-room. The writing is subtle, restrained and economical; the characters spring to life at a touch. The narrator unconsciously reveals herself as slightly self-complacent, and this is duly brought home to her at the close of the most enjoyable novel I have read for some time. (Sunday Times)
Upper middle-class life today is very pleasantly sketched, and most of the characters, particularly some minor ones, are very well worth meeting. (Glasgow Evening Citizen)

ROSES ARE RED by Mary Crawford >

Alicia, a self-willed, gifted and energetic woman, un knowingly victimizes her husband and children. The prospect of returning to the stange, where she once had a great success, fascinates and frightens her. She assumes that if other people behave as she expects, they will solve her conflicts for her; and takes refuge in illness when they fail. They, meanwhile, have problems of their own. Her husband, who lover her, fears that she has no more use for him. Her good-natured daughter makes excessive sacritices for the sake of family peace; and her brilliant son sulks over his uncertain future. The situation intensifies through a series of lively incidents and, after reaching a point of complete frustration for everyone, disentangles. Two young people make a good reco very from a broken engagement, another finds a career, another finds a hushand and Alicia herself plays the lead in a new London production. Her vigorous character does not change, but in a new setting shows new facets.
Roses are Redis an unusual kind of psychiatric story - a comedy, not a tragedy. Though it runs true to the textbooks, it develops entirely in domestic terms. No psychiatrists appear, and a striking cure is effected by the ordinary forces of circumstance.

ITSELF TO PLEASE by Mary Crawford

Although this is a novel of Oxford in the late nineteen-thirties, it must not be imagined as simply another account of undergraduate life. Andrew, the young man whose sentimental education is a part of the pattern, is an undergraduate, but it is friendship with the kind, distrait Elizabeth and her family, who have little direct connections with academic life, that leads him and them into exploration of the complexities and paradoxes of love, responsibility and anxiety.

The coming war throws its shadow behind it, as it were; all the people in the book are aware of it and react to the thought of it in their individual ways. Less clearly they are aware too of the confusion and dissolution of social classes in which each has a share.

Yet the story is in essence a comedy; its elements of the tragic are mostly those of wasted possibilities, in private life and in the world at large. Throughout, there is again the freshness, lightness of touch and accuracy of feeling that will be remembered from this author's earlier novels.

NO BEDTIME STORY by Mary Crawford

Jacko is a schoolboy in a country where Freedom is something that people talk about. His father often talks about it, in a strange, angry way, and in grown-up language that does not seem to Jacko to mean anything very much. His mother teaches him a song that has something to do with it, too, but he understands that he must not sing this in the streets.

Then one day Jacko realises that people are trying to do something about this Freedom, and the first results for him seem to be that life becomes very much more complicated, and worrying, and difficult. For one thing, he is left to look after his four-year-old sister, Vicky, alone. Christine soon comes to help, and has to stay when her own home gets knocked down by a tank. And then her friend Banger arrives, and they, being a few years older than Jacko, get the food and make plans. But Banger is mostly busy with fighting.

The fighting intensifies and soon becomes a full-scale battle; and when the air raids start Jacko has his own moment of anger, and violence, and horror.

Many innocent people, up and down the earth, have suffered in the long war between the world powers. Jacko, who lives only in an imaginary country, speaks for them all.

DEAR MISS WEAVER (a life of Harriet Shaw Weaver) by Jane Lidderdale and Mary Nicholson In 1932 T. S. Eliot dedicated his Selected Essays to Harriet Shaw Weaver 'in gratitude, and in recognition of her services to English letters'. This well-deserved dedication drew attention, though quietly (as was characteristic of both author and recipient), to a remarkable woman who played an essential part behind the scenes in the early presentation of many of the great names of contemporary literature. First she kept going practically single-handed not only the magazine The Egoist but also The Egoist Press, whose short list included works by Ezra Pound, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, Richard Aldington and Jean Cocteau (illustrated by Picasso).

Secondly, by her imaginative generosity she supported James Joyce and his family from 1919 to his death, so that he could concentrate on his writing without financial anxiety. The book depends very greatly on correspondence between Joyce and Miss Weaver which thus gives it its title. Joyce himself, harassed by the inner tensions of his genius, by the troubles of his family, and by the prolonged threat of blindness, is seen over a period of nearly thirty years in a new and intimate light, which illuminates and enhances his greatness as man and writer.

But there was more to it than that: Harriet Weaver, who radiated goodness and sincerity, was a natural rebel and in her gentle but determined way worked for many causes, including women's rights and the Communist Party. And the whole story of her long life is an intensely fascinating one. It is fortunate indeed that her god-daughter, Jane Lidderdale, undertook to write her biography; it proved a formidable task, taking some eight years and Miss Lidderdale soon enlisted the help of a friend, Mary Nicholson, who is joint author. Mrs. Nicholson is a novelist under the name of Mary Crawford.

The result is an absorbing book, brilliantly executed, and a delight to read from beginning to end. It stands comparison with the very best biographies of recent years.

In addition to the biographical chapters of the main text, there is a detailed examination of the accounts of The Egoist and the Egoist Press.

MEMOIRS OF AN UNEDUCATED LADY (Lady Allen of Hurtwood) by Marjory Allen and Mary Nicholson
'I had no particular sense of vocation, and no plans for a career': yet this unsophisticated girl, with no interest in formal education, was to make a name for herself as a landscape architect, and later to be drawn into work for children by the injustices she saw them enduring. Remembrance of her early good fortune - an idyllic childhood on a farm in an atmosphere of security and affection, and the chance to follow her own interests at a progressive school - made her the more determined in later life to do something children 'condemned to live in barbaric and sub-human city surroundings.
She was happily married to Clifford Allen, pacifist, socialist and internationalist, who helped her to clarify and present her ideas. Always a person who 'loved embarking on a practical joh and seeing it through to a successful finish', Lady Allen became a practised speaker and writer with a reputation for getting things done, nationally and internationally. She would like to be remembered for the campaign which led to the passing of the Children Act (1948) and for her work for adventure playgrounds, recently extended to include handicapped children.
Lady Allen is the first to realize that the work she has chosen is never finished; but the person who, with equal energy and enthusiasm, drives earth-shifters on playground sites and undertakes lecture tours, remains undaunted by the challenge. Mary Nicholson, an old friend and colleague of Lady Allen, has published several novels and is joint author, with Jane Lidderdale, of the biography Dear Miss Weaver

A version of the Gospel story for older children
The Story of Jesus of Nazareth by MARY CRAWFORD

This book is a paraphrased version of the story told in the Four Gospels, with some explanatory additions. Its object is to present, in a form that is attractive to look at and agreeable to handle, a brief consecutive narrative for readers whose knowledge of the original is vague or patchy. It is in no sense a substitute, but an introduction. It provides a context for passages already familiar and by the free use of current idiom emphasizes the vigour and realism of the story.

It is particularly intended for:
  1. Older children who have grown out of the stage of separate Bible stories.
  2. Parents and others who would like to give younger children some knowledge of the New Testament, but do not easily find their way about it.
  3. People who are not practising members of a church, but would welcome a chance of taking a fresh view of its origins,
Like any personal view of a great subject, it is a controversial book, and controversial issues have not been avoided. Our object is not to please every one, or to make the subject look easy, but to excite a vivid interest in those who come fresh to it, or whose ability to think of it in living terms has been dulled by habit.