Nodal, John Howard (DNB12)

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NODAL, JOHN HOWARD (1831–1909), journalist and writer on dialect, was son of Aaron Nodal (1798–1855), of the Society of Friends, a grocer and member of the Manchester town council. Born in Downing Street, Ardwick, Manchester, on 19 Sept. 1831, he was educated at the Quaker school at Ackworth, Yorkshire (1841–5). At seventeen he became a clerk of the old Electric Telegraph Company, and rose to be manager of the news department in Manchester. From the age of nineteen he also acted as secretary of the Manchester Working Men’s College, which, formed on the lines of the similar institution in London, was subsequently absorbed in Owens College.

Nodal began early to contribute to the local press. During the volunteer movement of 1860–2 he edited the ‘Volunteer Journal,’ and in January 1864 he gave himself up to journalism on being appointed sub-editor of the ‘Manchester Courier’ on its first appearance as a daily paper. From 1867 to 1870 he was engaged on the ‘Manchester Examiner and Times.’ Meanwhile he edited the ‘Free Lance,’ an able literary and humorous weekly (1866–8), and a similar paper called the ‘Sphinx’ (1868–71). For thirty-three years (1871–1904) he was editor of the ‘Manchester City News.’ Under his control the ‘City News’ besides chronicling all local topics was the recognised organ of the literary and scientific societies of Lancashire. Many notable series of articles were reprinted from it in volume form. Two of these, ‘Manchester Notes and Queries’ (1878–89, 8 vols.) and ‘Country Notes: a Journal of Natural History and Out-Door Observation’ (1882–3, 2 vols.), developed into independent periodicals. Nodal was also a frequent contributor to ‘Notes and Queries,’ and from 1875 to 1885 was on the staff of the ‘Saturday Review.’

Two prominent Manchester institutions owed much to Nodal's energies; the Manchester Literary Club, of which he was president (1873–9) and whose annual volumes of 'Papers' he started and edited for those years, and the Manchester Arts Club, which he was mainly instrumental in founding in 1878. For the glossary committee of the Literary Club he wrote in 1873 a paper on the 'Dialect and Archaisms of Lancashire,' and, in conjunction with George Milner, compiled a 'Glossary of the Lancashire Dialect' (2 parts, 1875-82). When the headquarters of the English Dialect Society were removed in 1874 from Cambridge to Manchester, Nodal became honorary secretary and director. He continued in office to the dissolution of the society in 1896. With Prof. W. W. Skeat (1835–1912) he compiled a 'Bibliographical List of Works illustrative of the various English Dialects,' 1877. His other works include: 1. 'Special Collections of Books in Lancashire and Cheshire,' prepared for the Library Association, 1880. 2. 'Art in Lancashire and Cheshire: a List of Deceased Artists,' 1884. 3. 'A Pictorial Record of the Royal Jubilee Exhibition, Manchester,' 1887. 4. 'Bibliography of Ackworth School,' 1889.

He died at the Grange, Heaton Moor, near Manchester, on 13 Nov. 1909, and was interred at the Friends' burial-ground, Ashton-on-Mersey. He married (1) Helen, daughter of Lawrence Wilkinson, by whom he had two sons and three daughters; (2) Edith, daughter of Edmund and Anne Robinson of Warrington.

[Momus, 10 April 1879; Journalist, 12 July 1889; Manchester City News, 19 Dec. 1896, 20 Nov. 1909, and 9 July 1910; Papers of Manchester Literary Club, 1910; Nodal's Bibliography of Ackworth School; personal knowledge.]

C. W. S.