Adam Nicolson, 5th Baron Carnock, FRSL, FSA (born 12 September 1957) is an English author who has written about history, landscape, great literature and the sea.

Adam Nicolson
Born (1957-09-12) 12 September 1957 (age 62)
Bransgore, England
Alma materMagdalene College, Cambridge
Period1981 to present
GenreHistory, memoir, nature, place
SpouseOlivia Fane (divorced)
Sarah Raven (m. 1992)
RelativesNigel Nicolson (father)
Philippa née Tennyson-d'Eyncourt (mother)

He is noted for his books Sea Room (about the Shiant Isles, a group of uninhabited islands in the Hebrides); God's Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible; The Mighty Dead (US title:Why Homer Matters) exploring the epic Greek poems; The Seabird's Cry about the disaster afflicting the world's seabirds; and The Making of Poetry on the Romantic Revolution in England in the 1790s.


Adam Nicolson is the son of writer Nigel Nicolson and his wife Philippa Tennyson-d'Eyncourt. He is the grandson of the writers Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicolson, and great-grandson of Sir Eustace Tennyson d'Eyncourt and Arthur Nicolson, 1st Baron Carnock. He was educated at Eaton House, Summer Fields School,[1] Eton College where he was a King's Scholar, and Magdalene College, Cambridge. He has worked as a journalist and columnist on the Sunday Times, the Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Telegraph, National Geographic Magazine and Granta, where he is a contributing editor. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Society of Antiquaries and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

He has made several television series (with Keo Films) and radio series (with Tim Dee, the writer and radio producer) on a variety of subjects including the King James Bible, 17th-century literacy, Crete, Homer, the idea of Arcadia, the untold story of Britain's 20th-century whalers and the future of Atlantic seabirds.

Nicolson has three sons, Thomas (born in 1984), William (born 1986) and Ben (born 1988), from his first marriage to Olivia Fane.[2] Since 1992 Nicolson has been married to Sarah Raven. They have two daughters, Rosie (born 1993) and Molly (born 1996) and live at Perch Hill Farm[3] in Sussex.

Between 2005 and 2009, in partnership with the National Trust, Nicolson led a project which transformed the 260 acres (110 ha) surrounding the house and garden at Sissinghurst into a productive mixed farm, growing meat, fruit, cereals and vegetables for the National Trust restaurant.[4] And between 2012 and 2017, together with the RSPB, the EU and SNH, Nicolson and his son Tom were partners in a project to eradicate invasive predators from the Shiant Isles, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. In March 2018, the islands were declared rat-free.[5]

In December 2008 he succeeded his cousin David Nicolson, 4th Baron Carnock, as 5th Baron Carnock but he does not use the title.[6]

Awards and recognitionEdit


  • The National Trust Book of Long Walks (1981)
  • Long Walks in France (1983)
  • Frontiers (1985)
  • Wetland (1987)
  • Two Roads to Dodge City (1988) with Nigel Nicolson
  • Prospects of England (1990)
  • On Foot: Guided Walks in England, France, and the United States (1990)
  • Restoration: Rebuilding of Windsor Castle (1997)
  • Regeneration: The Story of the Dome (1999)
  • Perch Hill: A New Life (2000)
  • Mrs Kipling: The Hated Wife (2001)
  • Sea Room (2001)
  • Power and Glory: The Making of the King James Bible (US title: God's Secretaries) (2003) (reissued in 2011 as When God Spoke English)
  • Seamanship (2004)
  • Men of Honour: Trafalgar and the Making of the English Hero (US title: Seize the Fire: Heroism, Duty, and the Battle of Trafalgar) (2005)
  • Earls of Paradise (US title: Quarrel with the King) (2008)
  • Sissinghurst: An Unfinished History (2008/US revised edition 2010)
  • Arcadia: The Dream of Perfection in Renaissance England (a revised paperback edition of Earls of Paradise) (2009)
  • The Smell of Summer Grass (an updated edition of Perch Hill) (2011)
  • The Gentry: Stories of the English (2011)
  • The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters (US title: Why Homer Matters) (2014)
  • The Seabird's Cry: The Life and Loves of Puffins, Gannets and Other Ocean Voyagers (2017) (US subtitle: The Lives and Loves of the Planet's Great Ocean Voyagers (2018))
  • The Making of Poetry: Coleridge, the Wordsworths and their Year of Marvels (2019/US edition 2020)


  • Atlantic Britain Channel 4, 2004
  • Sissinghurst BBC 4, 2009
  • When God Spoke English: The Making of the King James Bible BBC 4, 2011
  • The Century That Wrote Itself BBC 4, 2013
  • Britain's Whale Hunters BBC 4, 2014
  • The Last Seabird Summer? BBC 4, 2016


  • Homer's Landscapes 3 x 45 mins, BBC Radio 3, 2008
  • A Cretan Spring 5 x 15 mins, with Sarah Raven, BBC Radio 3, 2009
  • Dark Arcadias 2 x 45 mins, BBC Radio 3, 2011


External linksEdit

Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
David Nicolson
Baron Carnock
Heir apparent:
Hon. Thomas Nicolson