Biography of John Nicholson

John Nicholson was born 29th November 1790 at Weardley, near Harewood. shortly after moved to Eldwick, above Bingley Yorkshire. His early education combined the 3 r's with besom (broom) making.

At 12 he went to Bingley Grammar School. 12 months at the grammar school was thought to be amply sufficient to complete John's education and he was then apprenticed to the trade of woolsorting. This was with a view to joining his father's small wool business.

However, he prefered to go up on the moors with a book and his hautboy, a kind of oboe. His success on this instrument drew him parties and into pubs.

He married Mary when he was 19 years old, and she was the inspiration of much of his early poetry. Unfortunately she died in childbirth less than a year later. This sent him into the arms of Methodism, and he was well on the way to becoming a Methodist minister. However he married Martha Wild less than a year after his first wife's death, and this unseemly haste disbarred him from further pursuing the ministry!

He moved to Bradford, which was a 'quick' metropolis, growing fast on the profits of wool spinning. Here he became friends with many men of culture, who circulated his manuscript satires from hand to hand in an ever widening circle.

His work 'Airedale in Ancient Times' was eagerly bought around Bradford and went into three editions within the first year. This success went to his head and he gave up regular employment and took to distributing his books himeself to gentry and clergy around the country. This wandering life lead to him drinking more heavily; however he still produced more good literary work.

Around 1830 he was involved in the West Yorkshire Short Time Committee, who were agitating for mill workers rights. He wrote "The Factory Girl" for them and is thought to have written several other poems which were not attributed to him at that time.

On Good Friday, 13th April 1843, whilst crossing the River Aire in the dark, he slipped on some stepping stones and was found dead of exposure on the bank further downstream inb the morning.

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