Marjorie Hope Nicolson
Early life and education
Nicolson was born in Yonkers, New York, and was the daughter of Charles Butler Nicolson, editor-in-chief of the Detroit Free Press during World War I and later that paper's correspondent in Washington, DC, and Lissie Hope Morris.
Nicolson graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. degree in 1914, followed by her M.A. in 1918. Afterwards, she attended Yale, where she received a Ph.D. in 1920, where she was the first woman to receive the distinguished John Addison Porter Prize for her dissertation.
She taught first at the University of Michigan and was granted an assistant professorship before continuing her graduate study at Johns Hopkins College from 1923–1926. While at Johns Hopkins, Nicolson continued to teach at Goucher College. In 1926, she left for England to study as one of the early Guggenheim fellows.
After her studies in Europe, Nicolson returned to the United States to continue her research and to teach at Smith College. She was first an associate professor from 1926–1929, before becoming a professor of English literature and Dean from 1929 until 1941. During her time at Smith College, Nicolson was a strong ally of President Neilson and defender of women's right to have a real academic education.
She left Smith College for Columbia, in order to become the first woman to hold a full professorship at a prestigious graduate school. She became the chair of the English and Comparative literature department. Nicolson, or Miss Nicky, as she was intimately known by a few special students, became a much admired professor and scholar, who inspired many doctoral candidates while at Columbia. She was awarded the Columbia Bicentennial Silver Medallion in 1954. She left Columbia in 1962 as the Peter Field Trent Professor Emeritus, but still did not retire from the academic arena.
In 1963, she spent one year as the Francis Bacon chair at Claremont Graduate school. Following this year, she traveled to Princeton where she became the visiting scholar at the National Institute for Advanced Study. Throughout her busy career in academia, Nicolson found time to publish many short essays and books. She wrote throughout her life, and was awarded the British Academy Crawshay prize in 1947, for one of her early works, Newton Demands the Muse.
In 1940, she became the first woman president of Phi Beta Kappa; in 1943 she took over for a year as the interim editor of that organization's literary journal, The American Scholar, after its first editor, William Allison Shimer, resigned. She was also president of the Modern Language Association in 1963.
An authority on 17th-century literature and thought, she was the author of numerous books. She was awarded the Pilgrim Award from the Science Fiction Research Association in 1971 for her pioneering work in the relationship between science and literature.
NIcolson was awarded honorary degrees from over 17 colleges.
She died on March 9, 1981, in White Plains, NY.
- The Art of Description, F.S. Crofts & Co. (1937)
- Newton Demands the Muse: Newton's Opticks and the Eighteenth Century Poets, Princeton University Press (1946) (1966)
- Voyages to the Moon, Macmillan Co. (1948)
- The Breaking of the Circle (1950)
- Science and Imagination (1956); Archon Books (1976)
- Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory: The Development of the Aesthetics of the Infinite (1959); University of Washington Press (1997)
- A Reader's Guide to John Milton, (1963); Syracuse University Press (1998)
- Pepys' Diary and the New Science (1965)
- Books are Not Dead Things, College of William and Mary (1966)
- (co-authored with G. S. Rousseau/George Rousseau) "This Long Disease, My Life": Alexander Pope and the Sciences, Princeton University Press (1968)
- John Milton: A Reader's Guide to His Poetry, Octagon Books (1971)
- The Conway Letters: The Correspondence of Anne, Viscountess Conway, Henry More and Their Friends, 1642-1684, ed. Marjorie Hope Nicolson, Oxford University Press (1992)
- The Virtuoso, by Thomas Shadwell, ed. Marjorie Hope Nicolson & David Stuart Rodes, University of Nebraska Press (1992)
- Zephyr and Boreas: Winds of Change in the Fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin: A Festschrift in Memory of Pilgrim Award Winner, Marjorie Hope Nicolson, ed. George Edgar Slusser & Robert Reginald. San Bernardino, CA: Borgo Press (1997)
- "Two Voices: Science and Literature", Rockefeller Institute Review, Vol. 1, No. 3 (June 1963):1–11.
- "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter N" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
- "Book Reviews", Astounding Science Fiction, August 1949, p. 154.
- "Collection: Marjorie Hope Nicolson Papers | Smith College Finding Aids". findingaids.smith.edu. Retrieved 2020-06-29. This article incorporates text available under the CC BY 3.0 license.
- Tracy Chevalier (12 October 2012). Encyclopedia of the Essay. Routledge. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-135-31410-1.
- "Marjorie Hope Nicolson". c250.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2020-06-29.