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Dictionary of World Biography
Nicholson, Ben(edict) (1894–1982). British abstract
artist. Son of Sir William *Nicholson and husband
(1938–51) of the sculptor Barbara *Hepworth, in the
1930s he was a member of the Unit One Group of
British artists seeking a truly contemporary approach,
and he developed a style allied to the Russian
‘constructivism’ and to *Mondrian. His work was first
exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1934, after which
he exhibited widely and gained an international
reputation. He was awarded the OM in 1968.
Nicholson, Jack (1937– ). American actor and
film director. His films included Easy Rider (1969,
Academy Award), Carnal Knowledge (1971),
Chinatown (1974), The Passenger (directed by
*Antonioni, 1974), One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
(1975, Academy Award), Terms of Endearment (1984,
Academy Award), Prizzi’s Honour (1984), The Witches
of Eastwick (1986), Batman (as the Joker, 1989),
AÂ Few Good Men (1992), Hoffa (1992) and As Good
As It Gets (1998, Academy Award).
Nicholson, Sir William (Newzam Prior) (1872–
1949). English painter and engraver. He won an
international reputation with the posters executed
(in collaboration with James Pryde) under the
pseudonym ‘The Beggarstaff Brothers’. He designed
the first stage settings for Peter Pan and painted many
cool still lives e.g. The Hundred Jugs (1916), Onions
and soup pot (1923). He taught Winston *Churchill
to paint.
Nicias (d.414 BCE). Athenian politician and general.
Cautious, conservative and virtuous, he was, after the
death of *Pericles, the most important of the ‘generals’
(popularly elected commanders) left to carry on the
Peloponnesian War against Sparta. His efforts for peace
and pleas for prudence were constantly thwarted by the
demagogue Cleon and by the headstrong *Alcibiades,
who with Lamachus was appointed to share with
Nicias the command of an attack upon Syracuse in
Sicily, then a Spartan colony. When Alcibiades was
recalled for impiety and Lamachus killed, Nicias was
left in sole command of an expedition in which he
did not believe. In the event he delayed evacuation
too long, the Athenians were all killed or captured and
Nicias taken and put to death.
Nicolle, Charles Jules Henri (1866–1936). French
bacteriologist. Director of the Pasteur Institute at
Tunis, he discovered (1909) that the body louse
transmits typhus fever, and he also claimed success for
immunisation against trachoma. He won the Nobel
Prize for Medicine (1928).
Nicolson, Sir Harold George (1886–1968). English
author, born in Teheran. Son of Lord Carnock,
educated at Oxford, he became a diplomat and in
1913 married the poet Vita *Sackville-West. He was a
National Labour (virtually independent) MP 1935–
45. He wrote lives of *Byron, *Curzon and the official
biography of *George V (1952) for which he received
a KCVO. Other books include Some People (1927),
Public Faces (1932) and Good Behaviour (1955).
His Diaries and Letters 1930–62 (3 vols. 1966–68),
edited by his son Nigel Nicolson, are valuable source
documents for the period.
Nicolson, N., Portrait of a Marriage. 1973.
Niebuhr, Barthold Georg (1776–1831). German
historian. After many years spent in public service,
culminating with a term as Prussian Ambassador
in Rome 1816–23, he lectured at Bonn on ancient
history. His great History of Rome (3 volumes, 1811,
1812, 1832) set new standards of scholarship by his
critical examination of original sources. Many of his
conclusions remain unchallenged.
Niebuhr, Reinhold (1892–1971). American
theologian. Educated at Yale, he taught at the Union
Theological Seminary, New York 1928–60 and wrote
many books, including The Nature and Destiny of
Man (1941–43), which promoted the concept of a
‘social gospel’ with a heavy political emphasis.
Nielsen, Carl August (1865–1931). Danish
composer. His Symphony No. 1 (1892–94) shows
the influence of *Brahms, but other works of the
1890s illustrate a tendency towards combining
contradictory keys which, first asserted prominently
in the Symphony No. 2 (1902), led Nielsen towards
polytonality. In 1915 he became Director of the
Copenhagen Conservatoire. His works include four
more symphonies, the comic opera Maskarade (1906)
and a violin concerto (1911).
Grimley, D., Carl Nielsen and the Idea of
Niemeyer, Oscar(in full, Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida
Niemeyer Soares Filho) (1907–2012). Brazilian
architect. Strongly influenced by *Le Corbusier’s
functional architecture, he designed many strikingly
original buildings in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo
and was commissioned to design (1956) the principal
buildings for the city of Brasilia, the new capital of
Brazil. He was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1963
(Lúcio *Costa).
Niemöller, Martin (1892–1984). German Lutheran
pastor. After being a submarine commander in World
War I he was ordained in 1924. He at first supported
but later actively opposed the Nazi regime and was
held in a concentration camp from 1937 until the
end of World War II. He was President of the World
Council of Churches 1961–68.
Schmidt, D., Pastor Niemöller. 1959.
Niepce, Joseph Nicéphore (1765–1833). French
inventor. He devised heliography, using sunlight to
fix images on plates coated with Jericho pitch as early
as 1822, and this was the precursor of photography.
He later collaborated with *Daguerre who developed
a much faster process for fixing sharper images.