Nicolas Samuel Tredell
Born: 11 January 1950 (Age 71) Leicester
Occupation: Writer and Educator
Nicolas Tredell is a writer on literature, culture and film. His tally of published work includes 23 books and over 400 essays, articles, interviews, introductions and obituaries in English and American books, journals and newspapers. He is a frequent speaker at a wide variety of venues, most recently Godolphin and Latymer School, Reading School and the University of Bucharest. Tredell taught literature, film and cultural studies at Sussex University from 1984-2004. He lives in Seaford, East Sussex.
Early Life and Education
Tredell was born in Leicester on 11 January 1950 to Walter Tredell, a Hosiery Export Manager, and Frances Elizabeth Tredell (née Kirk), a former Shoe Operative, He was their second son. Their first son, David Charles Tredell, had been born on 28 September 1941. A daughter, Jacqueline Helen Tredell, would be born on 13 March 1955. When Tredell was 18 months old the family moved to West Ewell in Surrey where he started his formal education in the local primary school. Following the death of his older brother David from hydrocephalus and meningitis on 21 November 1956, the family moved back to Leicester, finally settling in Groby, a large village 5 miles North-West of the city, where Tredell completed his primary education at the village school. He passed his 11-Plus exam and went to King Edward VII Grammar School in Coalville. He stayed on into the Sixth Form and took A Levels in English, French and History; he and Robert Eggington formed the school debating team that reached the quarter-final of the 1968 County Cup competition. In 1968 Tredell sat the Oxford entrance exam and was offered a place at Balliol, but he decided to follow a different path. While pursuing a programme of private study in literature, philosophy and psychology, he worked at various local jobs including being a village postman and working as a hospital driver and porter in Groby Road Hospital. He moved to London in the early 1970s.
London in The Seventies
Tredell worked in a variety of jobs in London including serving on the Cheese Counter in Selfridges, as an Audio-Visual Assistant/Driver for the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Social Medicine, St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School (where he met his future wife, Angela Moreen Clark, whom he married in 1975) and as a Civil Service Officer in the Welfare Department of the British Museum.
Move to Sussex
In 1975 Tredell returned to his scholastic studies with a 3-year course, English major subject and History minor subject, at Eastbourne College of Education which later became East Sussex College of Higher Education. He was awarded a BA degree by Sussex University. A key part of his studies was the production of a dissertation on Colin Wilson, a writer whose work Tredell had been interested in since his discovery, in his early teens, of Wilson’s books, for example The Outsider (1956) and Ritual In The Dark (1960). This dissertation would later become in 1982 Tredell’s first published book The Novels of Colin Wilson. A second expanded edition of this was released by Maurice Bassett as an e-book in 2004. A third edition, further expanded to cover all Wilson’s published fiction, appeared as Novels to Some Purpose: The Fiction of Colin Wilson, in 2015.
In 1978 Tredell went on from East Sussex College of Higher Education to study for an MA in Modern Literature Since 1850 at the University of Kent at Canterbury where he wrote a dissertation on the 19th Century poet Algernon Charles Swinburne. This became his first published peer-reviewed scholarly essay which appeared in the journal Victorian Poetry in 1982.
Further studies included a year at the University of Surrey, where he obtained a PGCEA (Post Graduate Certificate in the Education of Adults). He also gained a Diploma in Continuing Education from the University of Sussex.
In 1981 Tredell had his first review published in PN Review which was the beginning of a writing relationship which is continuing in 2021.
Tredell contributed a great deal of material over the next 40 years - 13 Essays, 18 Essay-reviews, 94 Reviews and 14 Obituaries. An essay on Raymond Williams, Tredell wrote in response to Williams’ death in 1988, published in 4 parts in PN Review developed into Uncancelled Challenge: The Work of Raymond Williams (1990).
Tredell was a Contributing Editor from 1983-9 and in 1986 he was responsible for co-ordinating the PN Review Special Issue A New Orthodoxy?
A number of essays that Tredell had written for PN Review on the developments in Critical Theory and Practice, together with other related essays, were published as a book, The Critical Decade: Culture In Crisis, by Carcanet Press in 1993.
During the period 1990-94, Tredell carried out interviews with key literary practitioners and theorists most of which were published in PN Review. At the end of the series these and others were collected into a book Conversations With Critics published by Carcanet Press in 1994. This featured John Barrell, Catherine Belsey, Bernard Bergonzi, Christine Brooke-Rose, David Caute, Brian Cox, Donald Davie, Terry Eagleton, Stephen Heath, Robert Hewison, Lisa Jardine, Sir Frank Kermode, Colin MacCabe, Karl Miller, Sir Roger Scruton, C. H. Sisson, George Steiner, and Dame Marina Warner. A New and Expanded Edition in 2015 included further interviews carried out in the later 20th and the 21st century with Philip Hobsbaum and Raymond Tallis .
An interesting offshoot of these interviews was when Faber & Faber asked Tredell to be one of the three judges of the 1994 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for Poetry on the recommendation of Karl Miller whom Tredell had interviewed in 1990. The other two judges were Hugo Williams and Helen Dunmore. The prize was awarded to John Burnside for his volume of poems Feast Days.
Teaching at Sussex University
From 1984 to 2004 Tredell taught on a range of courses at Sussex University. These included a BA Cultural Studies, European Cinema and European Identities course; and the Media Studies Certificate, which he also convened. He studied with practising and prospective teachers from the Seychelles on the B.Ed Literature and Culture course canonical English writers such as Shakespeare, John Donne, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and Joseph Conrad and a selection of international writing in English by authors like Sam Selvon, Toni Morrison, Ama Ata Aidoo, Chinua Achebe and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o.
For several summers Tredell was a member of the small team teaching on the English in the Vacation International Summer School directed by Professor Ladislaus Löb. Many countries, for example Israel, Japan, Turkey, Greece, Poland, Germany, were represented by the students, of a variety of ages, who attended this. Texts studied included Separate Tables, The History Boys, Pygmalion, Mrs Dalloway and Ian McEwan’s Saturday.
Online Literary Encyclopedia
In 2004 Tredell started contributing articles on writers and individual literary works to the online Literary Encyclopedia. His work in this field is still continuing and up to the end of 2020 there were 114 articles by him in the Encyclopedia. He has provided comprehensive coverage of the works of authors such as Martin Amis, C.P.Snow, Laura Del Rivo and Alan Sillitoe.
Contributing Essays to Anthologies
In 1997 Tredell contributed five essays to the anthology of Gay and Lesbian Biography on W H Auden, Frances Bacon, John Cage, Emily Dickinson and David Hockney. Essays by Tredell on eleven writers were included in the 2001 anthology Contemporary Novelists. These ranged from A, N. Wilson to Terry Pratchett and J.M. Coetzee to Stephen King. Tredell wrote 17 essays for the 2003 Continuum Encyclopedia of British Literature. Among the writers covered were Malcolm Bradbury, Christine Brooke-Rose, L.P. Hartley, J.B. Priestley, Anne Stevenson and Marina Warner.
Tredell contributed essays to four volumes of the Dictionary of Literary Biography. These were Volume 194 (1998) Colin Wilson, Graham Swift; Volume 231 (2001) Ann Quin, David Caute; Volume 326 (2003) The Ghost Road (1995) by Pat Barker, Saville (1976) by David Storey; Volume 271 (2003) Brian Aldiss, Simon Raven.
Tredell has produced three monographs that could be considered to be pioneering publications: Caute’s Confrontations: The Novels of David Caute (1994), the first and, so far, only monograph on David Caute: Fighting Fictions: The Novels of B. S. Johnson, the first monograph on B. S. Johnson (2004, 2nd revised and updated edition 2010), and C. P. Snow: The Dynamics of Hope (2012) of which a reviewer said “this could become the general introduction to Snow studies for the next academic generation”.
Tredell’s first book in the Icon A Readers’ Guide to Essential Criticism series, on The Great Gatsby, was published in 1997. This was followed by Great Expectations (1998) and Heart of Darkness (1998), In 1998 he was asked to be the editor of the series.
In the early 21st century Icon sold their Readers’ Guides to Essential Criticism series to Palgrave Macmillan where it became the Palgrave Macmillan Readers’ Guides to Essential Criticism series. Tredell as Consultant Editor of the series was part of the deal. By the end of 2020 this series consisted of 89 volumes of which eight volumes had been produced by Tredell; in addition to the three referred to in the previous paragraph, these were The Sound and the Fury/As I Lay Dying (1999); The Fiction of Martin Amis (2000); Macbeth (2006); A Midsummer Night's Dream (2010); and Shakespeare - The Tragedies (2014).
English and Media Centre
In 2008 Tredell started his association with the English and Media Centre (EMC). He has made several contributions to EMC’s rich range of resources for A Level English and Media teachers and their students, for example video clips on both aspects of English Literature and also individual texts, articles in the EMC e-magazine and lectures in person and electronically for EMC’s programme of Continuing Professional Development for teachers. He was the judge of the English and Media Centre 2016 Close Reading Competition.
Conferences have been a significant arena for Tredell to share his love and knowledge of English and American Literature. Tredell has given several lectures at English and Media Centre Annual Conferences for 6th Form students and their teachers including ones on The Great Gatsby and on Narrative Voice. He also gave the Keynote Lecture on The Great Gatsby at the American Literature 1880-1940 Conference at Godolphin and Latymer School on 23 March 2017.
Tredell was co-organiser of the Literary London Society Conferences "Conflict and Resolution" (2018) and "Neighbours of Ours" (2019) where he presented papers. He has also contributed reviews to the Literary London Society Journal.
Tredell presented papers at the First (2016) and Second (2018) International Colin Wilson Conferences at the University of Nottingham. He was due to give a paper at the third conference in 2020 but this was postponed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Tredell has given Keynote Lectures at two Annual International Conference of the English Department at the University of Bucharest, Romania. These were AICED-19 (2017) – Birth, Death and Rebirth - and AICED-21 (2019) – Trauma, Narrative, Responsibility.
Lectures and Day Schools
Tredell has been a popular speaker at a variety of venues on a wide range of subjects. He has been invited to speak on The Great Gatsby at a number of schools for example, Ardingly College; Abbey School, Reading; Sir Robert Woodard Academy, Lancing; and Reading School (25 April 2017; 27 February 2018; 27 February 2019; 3 March 2020).
A different aspect of his literary interests was when he talked on Thomas Hardy’s poetry at the new Towner art gallery in Eastbourne in 2009. He had previously given talks at the old Towner Art Gallery on such artists as the Pre-Raphaelites, Velasquez, Rembrandt and Rubens.
His most recent talk on art was a talk on Rubens and Rembrandt for the Society of Eastbourne Artists’ Lenora Houchin Memorial Evening on 17 November 2017.
Tredell was a frequent speaker at the Tuesday Afternoon Lectures at the Friends Centre, Brighton where he gave talks on a wide range of literary and artistic subjects.
Tredell did a number of lectures and Day Schools for the WEA including one on the Bloomsbury Group. He also did an evening on the Bloomsbury Group at the public library in Lewes.
Tredell started writing essays for volumes in the Critical Approaches to Literature and Critical Insights series in 2017. The essays with an English and American focus span the whole historical range from Homer to Zadie Smith. The coverage of Tredell’s contributions is extensive with essays on prominent women writers such as Emily Dickinson, Harriet Beecher-Stowe, Jean Rhys, Doris Lessing, Nella Larsen and Zora Neale Hurston and prominent male writes such as Milton, Shakespeare. Arthur Miller, Ralph Ellison, John Steinbeck and Martin Amis. Tredell also contributed essays on the rhetoric of key American political figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Malcolm X. Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King. Tredell then progressed to editing three volumes in the Critical Insights series – A Midsummer Night’s Dream (February 2020); The Kite Runner (June 2020); In Cold Blood (October 2020) – to which he also contributed essays.