Sir Harold Nicolson wrote eight biographies over the course of his career. He wrote the first four - Paul Verlaine (1921), Tennyson (1923), Byron (1924) and Swinburne (1926) - during his diplomatic career. He wrote Curzon (1934) and Dwight Morrow (1935) during the course of his political career, and he penned King George V (1953) and Sainte-Beuve (1957) later on in life, when he was simply a writer.
Harold George Nicolson was born on November 21, 1886, in Tehran, Iran, where his father Arthur served as a British diplomat. After a life spent in diplomatic posts across Europe and the Middle East, Harold himself entered the diplomatic service in 1909 after graduating from Balliol College, Oxford.
Nicolson had a successful career in the diplomatic service until he was posted in Tehran as charges d'affaires in 1925. Two years into his assignment, Nicolson was recalled to London after criticizing his Minister in a dispatch. He received a posting to Berlin in 1928 but retired from the service in 1929.
In 1931, Nicolson began pursuing a political career, when he made an unsuccessful bid for Parliament under the New Party. Four years later, he was elected to the House of Commons as a member of the Labour party. He lost his seat in 1945 and proceeded to fail in a final bid in 1948.
Throughout both his diplomatic and political careers, Nicolson penned not only the eight biographies but also a number of history books and novels. After his political career ended, he devoted himself more fully to writing.
Nicolson died in May of 1968 at Sissinghurst Castle.