Beverley Nichols (1898-1983) was a prolific writer on subjects ranging from religion to politics and travel, in addition to authoring six novels, five detective mysteries, four children's stories, six autobiographies, and six plays. He is perhaps best remembered today for his gardening books. The first of them, Down the Garden Path, centered on his home and garden at Glatton and has been in print almost continuously since 1932. Merry Hall (1951) and its sequels Laughter on the Stairs (1953) and Sunlight on the Lawn (1956) document Nichols's travails in renovating a Georgian mansion and its gardens soon after the war. His final garden was at Sudbrook Cottage, which serves as the setting for Garden Open Today (1963) and Garden Open Tomorrow (1968). The progress of all three gardens was followed avidly by readers of his books and weekly magazine columns.
Nichols, a prolific writer best known for his gardening books, transforms the large and small happenings of a sleepy British village and country estate into mock high drama, retelling events such as a burglary, a ghost sighting, and home and garden renovations with humor and insight. SciTech Book News 19981218 [Nichols] the very model of gardening insouciance,... wrote at least once about everything and... is nearly the Bertie Wooster of gardening, and I say nearly only because some would consider it an insult to be called the Bertie Wooster of anything. -- Verlyn Klinkenborg New York Times Book Review 19981201 You'll find laughter on the stairs and everywhere else Nichols takes you as he renovates his old home and garden. Southern Living 19990201 A marvelously hilarious insight into people, plants and places... If you have ever renovated an old house or garden, you'll love these books. Traditional Gardening 19990201 The charm of Merry Hall, Laughter on the Stairs (mostly about the house) and Sunlight on the Lawn is undeniable, a mixture of the lyrical, the teasing, the understatedly witty and the self-mockingly camp. -- Ursula Buchan Daily Telegraph (London) 19991231 Be prepared. Beverley Nichols' garden books are part PG Wodehouse and part James Barrie - full of hilarious Jeeves-like characters and events, with moments of Peter Pan magic. -- Bob Cowden Pacific Horticulture 20000531 Find a comfortable chair, relax, and enjoy the Nichols' flights of literary fancy but be warned, once started, his books are hard to put down. -- Rosemary Read American Rhododendron Society Journal 19990602 The Nichols books are gardening classics; after reading one volume, you will want to read the others, so it would be best to buy all three at the outset. -- Diane Kostial McGuire Journal of the New England Garden History Society 20001204 For Beverley Nichols, this is a season of revival, and readers can be grateful for the chance once again to cultivate his acquaintance. -- Michele Slung Victoria 20010327