Neville Cardus


Biography of Neville Cardus

Sir John Frederick Neville Cardus (3 April 1888 – 28 February 1975), known as Neville Cardus, was an English writer and critic. From an impoverished home background, and mainly self-educated, he became The Manchester Guardian newspaper's cricket correspondent in 1919 and its chief music critic in 1927, holding the two posts simultaneously until 1940. His contributions in these two distinct fields in the years before the Second World War established his reputation as one of the foremost critics of his generation.

Cardus's approach to cricket writing was innovative, turning what had previously been largely a factual form into vivid description and criticism. He is widely considered to have influenced every subsequent cricket writer. Although he achieved his largest readership for his cricket reports and books, he considered music criticism as his principal vocation. Without any formal musical training, he was initially influenced by the older generation of critics, in particular Samuel Langford and Ernest Newman, but he developed his own individual style of criticism—subjective, romantic and personal, in contrast to the objective analysis practised by Newman. Cardus's opinions and judgments were often forthright and unsparing, which sometimes caused friction with leading performers. Nevertheless his personal charm and gregarious manner enabled him to form lasting friendships in the cricketing and musical worlds, with among others Newman, Sir Thomas Beecham and Donald Bradman.

Cardus spent the Second World War years in Australia, where he wrote for The Sydney Morning Herald and gave regular broadcast talks. He also wrote books on music, and his autobiography. After his return to England he resumed his connection with The Manchester Guardian as its London music critic. He continued to write on cricket, and produced books on both his specialisms. Cardus's work was publicly recognised by his appointment as a Companion of the Order of the British Empire and the award of a knighthood, while the music and cricket worlds acknowledged him with numerous honours. In his last years he became a guru and inspirational figure to aspiring young writers.

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