Nichols, John Treadwell, 1940-....

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Author and activist, John Treadwell Nichols was born in Berkeley, CA on July 23, 1940. His mother, Monique Robert, was French. His great grandfather on Monique's side, Anatole Le Braz, was a noted poet and folklorist from Brittany (in the North of France) whose work is still revered and in print. His American paternal grandfather (and namesake), John T. Nichols, was a distinguished naturalist and longtime Curator of Recent Fishes at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Paternal grandmother, Cornelia Floyd Nichols, was a direct descendant of William Floyd, who signed the Declaration of Independence for New York State. The William Floyd Estate in Mastic, New York, was donated to the US Government when Cornelia Floyd died, and is now an historic museum and wildlife refuge run by the Park Service as part of Fire Island National Seashore. John Nichols moved around a lot as a child. His mother died in 1942, so he lived for several years with an aunt and uncle while his father served in the Marines. There followed stints in Vermont, Long Island, Virginia, Washington D.C., Connecticut, and Berkeley again. From 1954-1958 Nichols attended Loomis Prep School (Windsor, CT). There, he became involved in playing sports--hockey, tennis, football, and track. He was elected to the Student Council, and learned to play his first songs on the guitar. The summer he was 16, he traveled West, spending a week in Taos, then working at a scientific research station in Portal, AZ, and fighting forest fires in the Chiricahua Mountains. The roots of Nichols' love for the Southwest were planted on this trip. He (barely) graduated Loomis (69th out of 72 students!), and chose to continue his education at Hamilton College near Utica, New York, from 1958-1962. While there, he played football and hockey, and ran track and cross country. He served on the Honor Court, and wrote a humor column called "Just No Stories" for Hamilton's newspaper, acted badly in several plays, played folk and blues guitar, and hung out with an eclectic array of characters--folkies, beatniks, nerds, jocks. During this time, he wrote at least a novel a year (none ever published). Nichols received his B.A. in English (1962), and then lived for a year with his French grandmother in Barcelona, Spain, where he learned to speak French and Spanish, taught English at the Instituto Americano, and wrote the initial drafts of what would become his first published novel, The Sterile Cuckoo. Upon his return from Spain, Nichols moved to New York's Greenwich Village (1963). He played guitar in coffeehouses, washed dishes, sold pen and ink drawings on the street, and hung out with his Argentine buddies at a MacDougal Street empanada stand. He rewrote many drafts of The Sterile Cuckoo and began what would become his second published novel, The Wizard of Loneliness. A $500 advance for The Sterile Cuckoo put Nichols on a bus headed to Guatemala City to visit a friend. This trip led to a major change in Nichols' political worldview. Back in New York he became active in the anti-Vietnam War movement, adopted a Marxist outlook, and began writing political fiction. John, his wife Ruth "Ruby" Harding, and young son Luke left NYC for Taos, NM in July 1969. Daughter Tania was born in 1970. Taos captured Nichols' soul. He volunteered with a muckraking journal, the New Mexico Review for a couple of years, writing investigative stories about land and water problems in northern NM. This experience gave him an intimate awareness of the culture and dynamics of the Taos Valley. Conflict between Anglos and Chicanos, social violence, destruction of natural resources, and economic imbalances would become recurring themes in Nichols' writings. His experiences during these years led him to write The Milagro Beanfield War. That novel was published in 1974 and became an "underground classic." The Magic Journey and The Nirvana Blues completed his New Mexico Trilogy. Complementing these novels are non-fiction works such as If Mountains Die, The Last Beautiful Days of Autumn, On the Mesa, and A Fragile Beauty. Nichols' career branched into screenplays during the 1980s, including projects such as the Costa-Gavras film "Missing," "The Milagro Beanfield War" (directed by Robert Redford), and "The Wizard of Loneliness" (which starred Lukas Haas and Lea Thompson). Though interesting and lucrative, screenplays were not his main calling. Independently writing prose was more alluring and satisfying. In the next decades, Nichols churned out hundreds of manuscripts and actually published a few of them, including A Ghost in the Music, American Blood, An Elegy for September, The Sky's the Limit, Conjugal Bliss, The Voice of the Butterfly, and The Empanada Brotherhood. Nichols' first marriage with Ruby ended in divorce, as did two later marriages. His children have always been an important part of John's life. They are now grown with kids of their own. Asthma, heart problems, Meniere's disease, and assorted other health issues have cramped his style somewhat, but at 70 (in 2010) John Nichols persists in fly-fishing the Rio Grande Gorge, hiking the high mountains among bighorn sheep near Taos, and rocking out on guitars with friends every other week. He also continues to advocate for human and environmental justice. Sources: John Nichols; Contemporary Authors. Vol. 190, 2001; Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series. Vol. 121, 2004; Biography from World Authors 1980-1985 (1991). H.W. Wilson Company.

From the description of John Nichols papers, 1957-2008. (University of New Mexico-Main Campus). WorldCat record id: 632315588

John Nichols, Taos, NM, August 2008

Author and activist, John Treadwell Nichols was born in Berkeley, CA on July 23, 1940. His mother, Monique Robert, was French. His great grandfather on Monique's side, Anatole Le Braz, was a noted poet and folklorist from Brittany (in the North of France) whose work is still revered and in print. His American paternal grandfather (and namesake), John T. Nichols, was a distinguished naturalist and longtime Curator of Recent Fishes at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Paternal grandmother, Cornelia Floyd Nichols, was a direct descendant of William Floyd, who signed the Declaration of Independence for New York State. The William Floyd Estate in Mastic, New York, was donated to the US Government when Cornelia Floyd died, and is now an historic museum and wildlife refuge run by the Park Service as part of Fire Island National Seashore.

John Nichols moved around a lot as a child. His mother died in 1942, so he lived for several years with an aunt and uncle while his father served in the Marines. There followed stints in Vermont, Long Island, Virginia, Washington D.C., Connecticut, and Berkeley again.

From 1954-1958 Nichols attended Loomis Prep School (Windsor, CT). There, he became involved in playing sports--hockey, tennis, football, and track. He was elected to the Student Council, and learned to play his first songs on the guitar. The summer he was 16, he traveled West, spending a week in Taos, then working at a scientific research station in Portal, AZ, and fighting forest fires in the Chiricahua Mountains. The roots of Nichols' love for the Southwest were planted on this trip.

He (barely) graduated Loomis (69th out of 72 students!), and chose to continue his education at Hamilton College near Utica, New York, from 1958-1962. While there, he played football and hockey, and ran track and cross country. He served on the Honor Court, and wrote a humor column called "Just No Stories" for Hamilton's newspaper, acted badly in several plays, played folk and blues guitar, and hung out with an eclectic array of characters--folkies, beatniks, nerds, jocks. During this time, he wrote at least a novel a year (none ever published).

Nichols received his B.A. in English (1962), and then lived for a year with his French grandmother in Barcelona, Spain, where he learned to speak French and Spanish, taught English at the Instituto Americano, and wrote the initial drafts of what would become his first published novel, The Sterile Cuckoo.

Upon his return from Spain, Nichols moved to New York's Greenwich Village (1963). He played guitar in coffeehouses, washed dishes, sold pen and ink drawings on the street, and hung out with his Argentine buddies at a MacDougal Street empanada stand. He rewrote many drafts of The Sterile Cuckoo and began what would become his second published novel, The Wizard of Loneliness . A $500 advance for The Sterile Cuckoo put Nichols on a bus headed to Guatemala City to visit a friend. This trip led to a major change in Nichols' political worldview. Back in New York he became active in the anti-Vietnam War movement, adopted a Marxist outlook, and began writing political fiction.

John, his wife Ruth "Ruby" Harding, and young son Luke left NYC for Taos, NM in July 1969. Daughter Tania was born in 1970. Taos captured Nichols' soul. He volunteered with a muckraking journal, the New Mexico Review for a couple of years, writing investigative stories about land and water problems in northern NM. This experience gave him an intimate awareness of the culture and dynamics of the Taos Valley.

Conflict between Anglos and Chicanos, social violence, destruction of natural resources, and economic imbalances would become recurring themes in Nichols' writings. His experiences during these years led him to write The Milagro Beanfield War . That novel was published in 1974 and became an "underground classic." The Magic Journey and The Nirvana Blues completed his New Mexico Trilogy. Complementing these novels are non-fiction works such as If Mountains Die, The Last Beautiful Days of Autumn, On the Mesa, and A Fragile Beauty .

Nichols' career branched into screenplays during the 1980s, including projects such as the Costa-Gavras film "Missing," "The Milagro Beanfield War" (directed by Robert Redford), and "The Wizard of Loneliness" (which starred Lukas Haas and Lea Thompson). Though interesting and lucrative, screenplays were not his main calling. Independently writing prose was more alluring and satisfying. In the next decades, Nichols churned out hundreds of manuscripts and actually published a few of them, including A Ghost in the Music, American Blood, An Elegy for September, The Sky's the Limit, Conjugal Bliss, The Voice of the Butterfly, and The Empanada Brotherhood .

Nichols' first marriage with Ruby ended in divorce, as did two later marriages. His children have always been an important part of John's life. They are now grown with kids of their own. Asthma, heart problems, Meniere's disease, and assorted other health issues have cramped his style somewhat, but at 70 (in 2010) John Nichols persists in fly-fishing the Rio Grande Gorge, hiking the high mountains among bighorn sheep near Taos, and rocking out on guitars with friends every other week. He also continues to advocate for human and environmental justice.

Sources: John Nichols Contemporary Authors. Vol. 190, 2001. Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series. Vol. 121, 2004. Biography from World Authors 1980-1985 (1991). H.W. Wilson Company

From the guide to the John Nichols Papers, 1957-2008, (University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Dunaway, David King. David Dunaway Writing the Southwest research and recordings, 1976-2005. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn David Dunaway Writing the Southwest research and recordings, 1976-2005 University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research
referencedIn Abbey, Edward, 1927-1989. Papers of Edward Abbey, 1947-1990 (bulk 1969-1989). University of Arizona Libraries
creatorOf John Nichols Calaveras Prints Collection, 1975-1978 University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research
creatorOf Ward, David S. The Milagro beanfield war : screenplay / by David S. Ward. Texas State University-San Marcos, Albert B. Alkek Library
creatorOf Nichols, John Treadwell, 1940-. John Nichols papers, 1957-2008. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn Moose, Ruth. Ruth Moose papers, 1960s-2000 [manuscript]. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Brandi, John. John Brandi papers, 1964-1999. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Larson, Nancy. The wizard of loneliness : screenplay, 1985. Texas State University-San Marcos, Albert B. Alkek Library
referencedIn Nichols, Cornelia Floyd. Papers, 1961-1972. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Governor's Arts Awards Collection, 1974-open, 1997-2004 Fray Angélico Chávez History Library, Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A.
creatorOf Larson, Nancy. The wizard of loneliness : screenplay / by Nancy Larson. Texas State University-San Marcos, Albert B. Alkek Library
creatorOf Nichols, John Treadwell, 1940-. Nichols, John [picture] : calaveras prints (Collection). University of New Mexico-Main Campus
creatorOf John Nichols Papers, 1957-2008 University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abbey, Edward, 1927-1989. person
correspondedWith Brandi, John. person
associatedWith Dunaway, David King. person
associatedWith Larson, Nancy. person
associatedWith Moose, Ruth. person
associatedWith Nichols, Cornelia Floyd. person
associatedWith Ward, David S. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
West (U.S.)
West (U.S.)
New Mexico
Taos Region (N.M.)
Taos Region (N.M.)
New Mexico
Subject
Social ecology
Hispanic Americans in literature
Novelists, American--20th century
Water rights--New Mexico--Fiction
Hispanic Americans--Fiction
Musicians--United States
Musicians--Latin America
Human ecology
Death in art
American literature
Social ecology--West (U.S.)
Clergy--Latin America
Political activists
American Literature--New Mexico
Water rights--Fiction
Big business--United States
Clergy--United States
Mexican Americans--New Mexico--Fiction
Big business--Latin America
Human ecology--West (U.S.)
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1940-07-23

Americans

English

Information

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