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John Nichols

From Academic Kids

This article is about John Nichols, the English printer and author. For the American writer, see John Nichols (American writer). For the American politician, see John Nichols (politician).


John Nichols (February 2, 1745 - November 26, 1826) was an English printer and author.

He was born in Islington, London. He was apprenticed in 1757 to "the learned printer," William Bowyer, whom he eventually succeeded. On the death of his friend and master in 1777 he published a brief memoir, which afterwards grew into the Anecdotes of William Bowyer and his Literary Friends (1782). In 1788, he became editor of the Gentleman's Magazine and remained so till his death. In that periodical, and in his numerous volumes of Anecdotes and Illustrations, he made invaluable contributions to the personal history of English men of letters in the 18th century.

As his materials accumulated he compiled a sort of anecdotal literary history of the century, based on a large collection of important letters. The Literary Anecdotes of the 18th Century (1812-1815), into which the original work was expanded, forms only a small part of Nichols's production. It was followed by the Illustrations of the Literary History of the 18th Century, consisting of Authentic Memoirs and Original Letters of Eminent Persons, which was begun in 1817 and completed by his son John Bowyer Nichols (1770-1865) in 1858. The Anecdotes and the Illustrations are mines of valuable information on the authors, printers and booksellers of the time.

Other Works

  • A Collection of Royal and Noble Wills (1780)
  • Select Collection of Miscellaneous Poems (1782), with subsequent additions, in which he was helped by Joseph Warton and by Bishops Percy and Lowth
  • Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica (1780-1790)
  • The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth (1788), with Richard Gough
  • History and Antiquities of the Town and County of Leicester (1815) (considered an important work)

Nichols was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a trustee of many city institutions, and in 1804 he was master of the Stationers' Company.

John Bowyer Nichols and John Gough Nichols

John Bowyer Nichols continued his father's various undertakings, and wrote, with other works, A Brief Acount of the Guildhall of the City of London (1819). His eldest son, John Gough Nichols (1806-1873), was also a printer and a distinguished antiquary, who edited The Gentleman's Magazine from 1851 to 1856, and the Herald and Genealogist from 1863 to 1874, and was one of the founders of the Camden Society.

Bibliography

A full "Memoir of John Nichols" by Alexander Chalmers is contained in the Illustrations, and a bibliography in the Anecdotes (vol. vi.) is supplemented in the later work. See also RC Nichols, Memoirs of J. G. Nichols (1874).

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