William Nicholson was born in 1948, and grew up in Sussex and Gloucestershire. He was educated at Downside School and Christ’s College, Cambridge, and then joined BBC Television, where he worked as a documentary film maker.
There his ambition to write, directed first into novels, was channelled into television drama. His plays for television include 'Shadowlands' and 'Life Story', both of which won the BAFTA Best Television Drama award in their year; other award-winners were 'Sweet As You Are' and 'The March'. In 1988 he received the Royal Television Society’s Writer’s Award. His first play, an adaptation of 'Shadowlands' for the stage, was Evening Standard Best Play of 1990, and went on to a Tony Award winning run on Broadway. He was nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay of the film version, which was directed by Richard Attenborough and starred Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.
Since then his film credits include: 'Sarafina', 'Nell', 'First Knight', 'Grey Owl', 'Gladiator' (as co-writer, for which he received a second Oscar nomination), 'Elizabeth: the Golden Age', 'Les Miserables', 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom', 'Unbroken', and 'Everest'. He has written and directed his own film, 'Firelight'; and four further stage plays, 'Map of the Heart', 'Katherine Howard', 'The Retreat from Moscow' (which ran for five months on Broadway and received three Tony Award nominations), and 'Crash'.
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