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Diaries of Harold George Nicolson (1886-1968, Balliol 1904-1907, Hon Fellow 1955)

image from Harold Nicolson's Diary 1924-1929 at Balliol College, Oxford

image from Harold Nicolson's MS diary 1924-1929, Balliol College.

Holdings at Balliol

Balliol College owns the original manuscript diaries of Harold Nicolson for 1910, 1912, 1913, 1916, 1918, 1921-23 and 1924-29, and the original annotated typescript diaries of Harold Nicolson 1930-1964. The Diaries are open for consultation by researchers. They are not indexed. As far as we are aware, diaries for years other than those listed do not survive.

Balliol College does not hold any other papers of Harold Nicolson except individual letters in other Modern Personal Papers collections; see e.g. the Maxwell Papers.

Balliol College does not hold papers of Nigel Nicolson.


The Diaries were given to Balliol College by Nigel Nicolson in 1968, 1993 and 1994.


Copyright in Harold Nicolson's early MS diaries (1910, 1912, 1913, 1916, 1918, 1921-23, 1924-29) belongs to Balliol College.

Copyright in Harold Nicolson's other writings, including the TS diaries 1930-1963, belongs to Juliet Nicolson.

Copyright in Nigel Nicolson's writings (which Balliol does not hold) belongs to Adam Nicolson.

Letters in the collection from other correspondents are copyright elsewhere.


Selections from the diaries, heavily edited by Nigel Nicolson, are published in three volumes: Diaries and Letters 1930-39; Diaries and Letters 1939-45; Diaries and Letters 1945-62 (1966-68); and collected in one volume as The Harold Nicolson Diaries 1907–1963, also edited by Nigel Nicolson. Authors wishing to quote from the Diaries are advised to distinguish carefully between citations of the original diaries and the published selections, and where applicable to check for discrepancies, as they can differ significantly.

Related holdings

The bulk of Harold Nicolson's papers is in Princeton University Library. The main Nicolson collection is described here. There are also individual Nicolson letters and papers in other Princeton collections. Another, recent, large accession is in the Beinecke Library at Yale, finding aid here. Groups of his letters are described in many collections; see e.g. the National Archives' catalogue. Balliol has no further information about these collections.

Recent citations

Purvis, Stewart, and Jeff Hulbert. Guy Burgess: The Spy Who Knew Everyone. Biteback Publishing, 2016.


- Anna Sander, 2015

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The archives and manuscripts of Balliol College are open by appointment to enquirers in person at the Historic Collections Centre in St Cross Church, Holywell.
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Updated 7.iv.16
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