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Former Poetry Prize winner Jim Saville is  loading some of Nicholson's work onto the internet and has written a biography, some of which he has kindly offered to share with other Sentinel readers:

John Nicholson was born at Weardley near Harewood on 29th November 1790, the son of a worsted manufacturer, and educated in Eldwick and at Bingley Grammar School. He gained his living as a woolsorter or woolcomber, and married early but his wife died in childbirth in 1810. He remarried three years later and two years after that severed his strong connections with the Methodist Church.

His employers were willing to overlook his drunken behaviour because of the prestige he brought as a member of Bradford's Intellectual Society. He was commissioned to write for the Bradford Old Theatre and his second play, The Siege of Bradford, set in the Civil War, was first performed in 1820 and published, with some of his poetry, the following year. He twice moved to London but was not able to take up his imagined place in Society, being considered something of a boorish Northerner. On April 12th 1843, while trying to cross the stepping stones across the Aire, near the point where his employer  would build his famous mill, he fell. He  pulled himself  onto the bank but his groans scared a boy, early the next morning, who hurried on his way, telling no-one. Within the hour, Nicholson was found dead. He is buried in Bingley Churchyard.  

Read more at :

[Tony Harrison's play, Poetry or Bust, comissioned by  Jonathan Silver, was first performed in the Mill in 1993. In 2003, it was performed again as part of the first Saltaire Festival. A copy of the text, donated by Mr Robin Silver, was presented to the first winner of the Poetry Prize.]

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